Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley’s leadership skills are still evolving, just like his new weapon on the outside
STATE COLLEGE — How do you follow a first year in which you performed at an All-Big Ten level?
It’s no easy task, but that’s the situation Lions redshirt junior quarterback Trace McSorley finds himself in. McSorley knows he needs some help from some new players and that his leadership, and the offense’s attention to detail, will be critical in 2017.
McSorley said Wednesday he plans to be a more vocal leader for Penn State. His play on the field spoke volumes last season as he threw for 3,614 yards and 29 touchdowns, totaling a single-season record 3,979 yards.
“No, it wasn’t difficult,” McSorley said of his decision to become more vocal.
“It came out at times last year and I think this year was the time where I feel like I needed to push it a little bit more.
“Last year, when I really felt like I needed to say something, is when I would step up and say something. This year (I’m) kinda trying to do it before I get that feeling.”
McSorley likely had a few other things on this mind last season as he spent all spring and most of summer locked in a battle with Tommy Stevens for the starting job.
It’s his now and the 2016 second-team All-Big Ten choice discussed the need for Penn State’s offense to be more efficient on third down. The Lions converted at a 33 percent rate last season.
McSorley is also looking for a new No. 1 wideout with big-play receiver Chris Godwin declaring early for the NFL draft.
Saeed Blacknall, who has averaged 20.8 yards per reception during his first three seasons, is a popular pick to claim Godwin’s No. 1 role but Penn State coaches and players can’t stop raving about redshirt sophomore Juwan Johnson this spring.
McSorley can see why.
“He’s stepping into the role, trying to fill that Chris (had),” McSorley said of Johnson.
“He’s done a tremendous job, he’s always in the weight room … and I think for the team to see him doing that, to see how it’s paying off on the field, I think that’s why you’re starting to hear his name more and more.
“You love seeing guys that put in all the work.”
Center Brian Gaia has also moved on and Penn State is working second-year sophomore Connor McGovern, a starting guard last season, in his spot.
And another young linemen, true freshman Mike Miranda, has the coaching staff buzzing.
“They continue to make tremendous strides,” McSorley said of the PSU O-line.
“I’ve really been impressed with some of the young guys coming. And some guys have stepped into some spots that they weren’t necessarily going to be in.
“They’ve fought hard every day. We’ve got some young guys taking a lot of reps. One guy, Mike Miranda, he’s really come in and taken a bunch of reps … he’s doing a great job.”
Penn State’s Trace McSorley on QB Jake Zembiec’s development