A flood of memories and feelings have hit Trace McSorley this week as Penn State approaches senior day at Beaver Stadium, and he’s not even officially a senior.
The Nittany Lions’ redshirt junior quarterback will see eight players who were members of his 2014 signing class — James Franklin’s first as head coach — compete at home for the last time Saturday when the Lions (No. 10 College Football Playoff rankings, No. 13 AP poll) take on Nebraska. In all, 23 seniors will be introduced before the game.
“I was actually talking this morning with [senior cornerback] Christian Campbell, and we were just kind of having a conversation thinking about how fast these last four years have gone,” McSorley said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.
“I still remember the first day we all got here and went to the training table for the first time, and that feeling we all had. Then for us to be where we are right now … it’s crazy to think about how fast it all has gone.”
McSorley committed to Vanderbilt when Franklin was the head coach there. However, when Franklin took the Penn State job less than a month before national signing day in 2014, he asked the quarterback to consider coming with him. McSorley said he visited Penn State a short time later along with cornerback Grant Haley, another Vandy commit who eventually flipped to the Nittany Lions.
“I remember it was just kind of a blur for me personally,” he said. “I just didn’t know what was going to happen. I had been a commitment to Vanderbilt since July before my senior year, and now a couple of weeks before signing day I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was kind of freaking out.
“I remember when me and Grant were up here to visit, being here with someone who was going through the exact same thing that I was. I could show my parents that we’re not the only ones feeling like this. But everything just kind of seemed to calm down once we got up here and realized that this school had a lot to offer.”
McSorley has been a major force the last two seasons, leading Penn State to a 19-5 mark with four of the losses coming by a combined 10 points. He holds school records of 52 touchdown passes and a combined 68 TDs running and throwing. He has gained 6,465 yards through the air and 7,222 yards of total offense.
This season, he leads the Big Ten with 2,666 passing yards, good for 19th in FBS, and is second in total offense at 301.5 per game. He has thrown 21 touchdown passes against eight interceptions, but three of those picks came in the Lions’ 27-24 loss at Michigan State.
“There’s definitely areas where you can improve as a player,” he said, “and the top one for me, the one I put the most emphasis on, is decision-making and protecting the ball. I think I’ve done that better this year but it’s definitely hurt us in a couple of games where you’re forcing some throws and you have to be more accurate.”