Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens, a fifth-year player who was expected to be the successor to Trace McSorley before undergoing foot surgery in December, has submitted his name to the NCAA transfer portal, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday.
The move will give Stevens an opportunity to examine his options before the start of the 2019 season but also give him the right to return to the Nittany Lions.
The Centre Daily Times quoted Stevens’ father last week as indicating a move from Penn State was possible.
“Tommy has so much invested in this year, and we know this is his last shot,” Tom Stevens told the newspaper. “If he’s not Penn State’s quarterback, he’s going to be somebody’s quarterback. Everyone already knows, if he’s not playing at Penn State this year, he’s probably going to leave. He wants to be a starter.”
Stevens, who has backed up McSorley in each of the last three seasons, suffered a foot injury during the spring-practice period of 2018 and missed the first four games of the season. He came back and played seven games but was not 100 percent and underwent surgery after the regular season.
Sean Clifford, who will be a redshirt sophomore in the fall, took most of the snaps at quarterback during the spring. Stevens worked at “the mental aspect” of quarterback and did skeleton drills, offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne said Saturday after the Blue-White Game.
Penn State head coach James Franklin said after the intrasquad game that the battle for starting quarterback was “going to need to be more of a true competition,” and did not give a timetable for when he might name a starter.
“We were put in a tough spot because [Stevens] had an injury that made it difficult,” Franklin said. “We want to be able to name the starter as soon as we possibly can, but we are not ready to do that right now.
“Tommy has done everything right for four years. There’s been a huge body of work that we’ve seen from him, and I think last year, in a lot of ways, wasn’t fair to him because he was playing with an injury, a pretty significant injury. Our coaching staff has all the belief in the world in Tommy. Our coaching staff understands what Tommy has done and who he can be.
“But we also have belief in the other guys and we’ve created good competition in our quarterback room. We’ll see how this plays out. We might name one as soon as we can, but based on how things have played out, I don’t know when that will happen.”