Penn State a perfect fit for Stevens, Clifford

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Sean Clifford
Tommy Stevens
Tommy Stevens

WE ARE! PENN STATE!
WE ARE! NFA!
The first chant above is synonymous with Penn State football and a tribute to the program’s long history of success.
The second chant fits with the first, as NFA products Tommy Stevens and Sean Clifford prepare to play for the Nittany Lions at the next level.
Stevens will be a freshman quarterback at Penn State this season after a prolific high school career at Decatur Central High School in Indiana.
As a prep senior last year, Stevens passed for 1,891 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“He’s one of those kids that doesn’t take things for granted,” Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin said. “He’s very appreciative. You always want more of your guys to be like that.”
Stevens is an NFA product with a very bright future.
So is Clifford.
Heading into his junior season at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Clifford was already being heavily recruited by several big-time collegiate programs before committing to Penn State earlier this summer.
“I was looking at Penn State and a lot of other schools,” Clifford said. “When I was making the decision, I just sat down with my parents and told them if I got an offer from any other school, it really wouldn’t matter. I’ve always wanted to go to Penn State. With my parents and my coaches, their next question was: ‘Why wait?’ So, it was definitely the right decision.”
As a sophomore last season at St. Xavier, Clifford passed for 832 yards and 9 touchdowns and rushed for 314 yards and 2 more scores as the Bombers went 10-3.
With two more years of high school football yet to play, Clifford is excited about already making his college choice.
“I’ve been dreaming about it since my dad put a football in my crib when I was a couple years old and I actually figured out how to throw it,” he said. “I’ve wanted to play college football for the longest time, I can’t even remember. From the first time I actually got to play the sport, I knew this is what I wanted to do as long as I possibly could.”
Even though Clifford is two classes behind Stevens, the NFA standouts might find themselves competing for playing time at QB with Penn State at some point down the road.
“No matter where I went, I knew I would have to compete,” Clifford said. “To possibly compete with Tommy, an NFA guy, with what he has been through, with what he knows about mechanics, what he knows about getting the job done, I think it would a tough competition but it would be a lot of fun.”
Stevens is thrilled to be starting his collegiate career at Penn State, and Clifford is equally thrilled to have made his decision.
“It’s all starting to sink in,” Clifford said. “I think the first couple weeks, it was kind of a blur. I was getting calls left and right, a lot of love from all the Penn State fans. Now, not having to call other coaches or keep in contact with other people, it’s a lot of weight off your shoulders. It’s kind of crazy it’s all over.”
Looking back, Clifford gives NFA a lot of credit for helping him blossom as a premier quarterback.
“My first NFA camp, it was a youth camp and I was a third grader,” Clifford said. “They’ve given me roots and helped develop my structure of throwing. Every throw I make now, I’m still getting to zero. And I still wear the wristband. NFA definitely still runs throigh my veins and I’m really happy I found them. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without them.”

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University

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