Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens on staying: 'I love Penn State'

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Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens addresses questions from Penn State Sports Network broadcaster Brian Tripp during a Media Day event inside Beaver Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016.

Penn State backup quarterback Tommy Stevens, the subject of speculation that he might leave the program after he graduates in May, has announced he will remain a member of the Nittany Lions.

“I did search around and look and see if there was a better place for me somewhere,” Stevens, who will be entering his redshirt junior season, told reporters Wednesday night after spring football practice. “I talked to some schools but ultimately I know what I have here.

“I love Penn State. I love the relationships I have here and I love playing football with my best friends. Ultimately after looking around I found out this is still the best place for me, and this is what I want to do moving forward.”

The 6-foot-5, 232-pound Stevens had the opportunity to be a graduate transfer, meaning he would not have to sit out a year under NCAA rules, and he would have two years of eligibility remaining.

“I guess the hardest part would have been, you can leave and possibly start somewhere for two years, maybe not the best for your future,” he said. “But then you have the opportunity to stay here, keep working and getting better and be patient. That was probably the hardest part. Ultimately this is the best place for me and I’m happy with my decision.”

Stevens played nine games last season as quarterback, running back, wide receiver and H-back, accounting for a total of nine touchdowns – four rushing, three passing and two receiving. He averaged 7.0 yards per carry on the ground and caught 12 passes.

Stevens said offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, who replaced Joe Moorhead after Moorhead left following last season to become head coach at Mississippi State, told him he again would have multiple opportunities to contribute on offense, although he probably will be backing up starting quarterback Trace McSorley for a third straight season.

“He’s earned so much respect on our team,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “Obviously as a coach I am elated that Tommy is going to stay with us, but moreso than that was the way he handled this whole process, I’m really proud of him.”