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Tommy Stevens’ transfer portal entrance shows importance of grad transfer rule

first_imgIt worked out for both. It can work out here, too.Stevens will get his opportunity, too. He showed enough in a limited sample size behind McSorley that he will be a productive quarterback somewhere.This is Stevens’ last chance to play in the FBS, and he should be able to do that wherever he wants. If there’s any quarterback that has earned that right, then it’s him. Tommy Stevens waited four years for this opportunity at Penn State, and nobody can say he’s not a team player.Stevens sat behind Trace McSorley the last three seasons. He even played the “lion” position just to get on the field. Stevens waited for his turn, and now that it’s here it’s even more complicated. MORE: SN’s way-too-early top 25Stevens entered the transfer portal on Wednesday, just four days after junior Sean Clifford completed 11 of 19 passes for 131 yards and rushed for 31 yards in the Nittany Lions’ spring game. Stevens missed spring practice because of an injury suffered late last season.”Tommy’s done everything right,” Franklin said via The Daily Collegian. “For four years there is a huge body of work for what we’ve seen from him. Last year wasn’t fair to him because he was playing with an injury.”It’s fair for Penn State to roll with a different quarterback if Clifford wins the job. It’s also fair for Stevens to test the transfer portal, then come back and compete for the starting job in fall camp.Stevens’ plight backs up the need to keep graduate transfer rules intact for the future. He’s the textbook case of waiting your turn — what coaches like to preach in an era where transfer waivers are being handed out with almost no restrictions — and having a backup plan if it does not work out.The NCAA is considering putting restrictions on graduate transfers, which have become most amplified with quarterbacks shuffling across the FBS. Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, who started in two College Football Playoff championship games, was the highest-profile transfer this offseason.Quarterbacks like Stevens are the biggest reason why those limitations should not pass. He has done everything a student-athlete and team player is expected to do, and there needs to be a reward for that, whether it’s at Penn State or elsewhere.Nittany Lions fans shouldn’t have a problem with that.MORE: Tate Martell shows what’s right and wrong with QB shuffleStevens spoke with Sporting News last summer as part of a profile about McSorley, and was asked why he chose to stick around at a program knowing he would be a backup for three of his four seasons of eligibility.”Quarterbacks transfer all the time, and there’s always a want to play,” Stevens told SN. “I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t want to be the starting quarterback here; because that would be wrong. It’s just, there’s a lot of things that led up to this and led up to me being here, and I still feel like this is the right path for me.”Stevens was genuine. He spoke at length about his team-first mentality, relationship with McSorley and readiness to take advantage of his turn when it came. The fact he might not get that in Happy Valley might rub some the wrong way, but that is a consequence of the dizzying effects of the transfer portal at the game’s most-important position.This is the perfect time to make those decisions, too.The fact Stevens is in the transfer portal this soon after spring practice hints that Franklin likely will roll with Clifford in 2019. It is similar, in some ways, to the Dwayne Haskins-Joe Burrow dynamic in Columbus in spring practice last season.MORE: Ranking best transfer QBs for 2019 seasonBurrow waited his turn behind J.T. Barrett, but Haskins eventually passed Burrow on the depth chart. It worked out for Haskins — he ended up finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting and set Big Ten single-season records in passing yards and touchdowns. It worked out for Burrow, too, who will be a second-year starter at LSU this season.last_img

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