Franklin talks Stevens transfer for 1st time

UNIVERSITY PARK — We may never know exactly what happened with Tommy Stevens or why the quarterback transferred from Penn State, and coach James Franklin didn’t offer any specifics when speaking publicly on the subject for the first time Wednesday.

Franklin mentioned that he’s been “pretty consistent” with making sure the players know there will be open competitions for jobs every year.

“Guys who are returning starters obviously have an advantage,” the coach said before later adding, “Just because you’re a returning starter doesn’t guarantee (a starting spot). You have to go out and earn it every single day.”

Stevens wanted more assurances than that entering his senior season after spending three years as Trace McSorley’s backup. But Franklin couldn’t offer such assurances, especially since Stevens was limited in spring ball by a foot injury that required a second surgery in December.

Stevens decided to transfer to Mississippi State, surprising many people, including McSorley, who said so last week in NFL camp with the Baltimore Ravens.

“I want what’s best for Tommy. I want what’s best for Penn State football. And I want what’s best for college football,” Franklin said Wednesday. “It seems that every day you go on social media or the internet and there’s some story that’s going on with transferring.

“But at the end of the day, I care about Tommy. He did wonderful things for us in our program. I wish him nothing but success, and I want to make sure that Penn State’s going to be successful.”

Franklin has not named Sean Clifford the starting quarterback yet, but that’s a foregone conclusion now with Stevens gone. Will Levis is projected to be the backup.

Franklin said his confidence level in Clifford is “high.”

Clifford is known as an excellent leader on the team, and he’s already taken steps to try and convince his teammates to have faith in him.

At one point after Stevens transferred, Clifford told everyone gathered in a team meeting, “I won’t let you down.”

“We have a lot of confidence in Sean and what he’s been able to do,” Franklin said.

Clifford has a different kind of personality than McSorley, whom Franklin called “easygoing.” Clifford, on the other hand, is “a little bit more aggressive” in his approach to team leadership.

Another decommit

Four-star offensive tackle Aaryn Parks decommitted from Penn State on Wednesday. He’s rated the No. 24 offensive tackle prospect in the country.

Parks is the second offensive lineman to decommit this week. Four-star tackle Grant Toutant, who had been the first commit in the class of 2020, announced that he has changed his mind and flipped his commitment to Ohio State.

Penn State now has lost out to Ohio State on two prized recruits recently. Two weeks ago, receiver Julian Fleming, the top recruit in Pennsylvania, spurned PSU and committed to the Buckeyes.

As for Parks, he wrote on social media of his decision: “I feel as though I made my decision off emotions and locked in too early without giving other universities an equal opportunity to recruit me. Penn State will continue to be a top choice on my list of schools that I am interested in.”

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