Fifth-year Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens, who put his name in the NCAA transfer portal on Wednesday, will not be returning to the Nittany Lions, according to his father.
Stevens was sidelined during the spring practice period that ended with last Saturday’s Blue-White Game as he continued to recover from foot surgery last December. Head coach James Franklin said after the game that that search for a successor to Trace McSorley was “going to need to be more of a true competition” in preseason camp.
However, the quarterback’s father, Tom Stevens, had expressed a desire to know who the Penn State starter would be before then so his son could examine his options in case he did not win the job.
“We wanted it to work so bad,” he told The Athletic. “After being as invested as Tommy was for four-plus years, it gets to the point where either you have to make that jump or it’s going to be too late to make that jump. We just didn’t want it to get to the point where it was too late for Tommy to have any other options.
“At the end of the day, Tommy wants to play in the NFL, and every day is an audition for him.”
In the transfer portal, Stevens did have the option to return to the Nittany Lions.
At the start of 2018 spring practice, Stevens decided to remain at Penn State instead of transferring, a decision that would have allowed him to use his final two years of eligibility elsewhere without sitting out since he was graduating in May of that year.
Later that spring, the Indianapolis native suffered a foot injury that hampered him the entire 2018 season, limiting him to seven games. He underwent surgery on the foot last December and did not travel to the Citrus Bowl.
During the spring period that just ended, he worked on “the mental aspect” of quarterback and did skeleton drills, offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne said.
With Stevens’ departure, the lead candidate to succeed McSorley is Sean Clifford, who will be a redshirt sophomore in the fall. Clifford took most of the snaps during spring practice and completed 11 of 19 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in the Blue-White Game.