Citing preparation, Brisker predicts Sean Clifford to be nation's top QB
Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker wasn’t asked for a prognostication.
The Nittany Lions’ preseason All-American safety joined the media Wednesday evening after Penn State’s midweek practice at Beaver Stadium and took 10 minutes of questions. But before finishing, when asked to make an assessment of how fifth-year senior quarterback Sean Clifford has looked this preseason, Brisker provided a bold prediction anyway.
“I feel like Sean Clifford is going to be the best quarterback in all of college football,” Brisker said.
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award preseason watch list candidate has worked all offseason to prove Brisker right following a disappointing campaign in 2020.
Finishing second in the Big Ten for total passing yards during the conference’s COVID-amended slate with 1,883 yards and 16 touchdowns, Clifford’s struggles holding onto the football forced him to the bench in the second half of the Nittany Lions’ loss at Nebraska and to start the Iowa game the next week.
Still, managing to rebound from his league-worst eight interceptions in the first five games of the schedule, Clifford rebounded to complete 65 percent of his passes in the program’s four-game win streak to end the year.
More important to Brisker in his assessment of Clifford’s potential this season, though, was what came next.
Doggedly committed to the process of improvement, having shaken off the frustrations and disappointments of the year as a whole, Clifford’s approach to the offseason has repeatedly earned him praise. Described by head coach James Franklin as preparing and working “like crazy” through the offseason, Brisker explained his rationale behind the expectations for such an outstanding season from the quarterback this year.
“It’s just the way he prepares. He’s the first one in, the last one out. He takes his job very seriously,” Brisker said. “He definitely came out with a chip on his shoulder this camp and I think you guys are going to see what he does this year.”
A factor that Clifford himself has asserted throughout the summer, the confidence that has emerged as a result of his preparation is one that the quarterback and entire program are anticipating will pay dividends when the Nittany Lions begin their season in less than two weeks at Wisconsin. Said Clifford, “I honestly feel confident because I know that the preparation that I'm doing, I truly feel like it's unmatched right now. And I feel like our team's preparation is unmatched.”
Maybe just as important, Brisker also acknowledged the influence that Clifford’s work ethic has had on the rest of the program.
Rallying around the quarterback as a leader through his actions rather than just words, Clifford’s place within the Nittany Lion program is secured as the season quickly approaches.
“During the summer, we had a couple of extra reps and Sean stepped up and talked to the team, like, let’s go. It’s time,” Brisker said. “We feed off that because that’s one of our leaders and that’s our quarterback.”
Penn State will face Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 4 for a noon kickoff. The game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
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