On Saturday, Penn State senior quarterback Trace McSorley will have the chance to stand alone as the winningest QB in program history. It has been a long journey in blue and white for No. 9. However, McSorley leaves behind a legacy which deserves to be capped off with him standing alone atop the wins chart.
McSorley has joined some elite company as one of the best quarterbacks to ever wear the pads for Penn State. Among them include Todd Blackledge, who led the Nittany Lions to a 31-5 record in his three seasons under center, including a national championship in 1982. Blackledge also won the Davey O’Brien Award, which goes to the nation’s best quarterback, following the 1982 season.
Another noteworthy mention is Kerry Collins, who was a first-team All-American in 1994, in addition to winning the Maxwell Award as the country’s most outstanding player, and the Davey O’Brien Award.
The question becomes, where does McSorley’s legacy compare to other Penn State greats? He does not have the hardware or a national championship to match Collins and Blackledge. However, McSorley atones for these shortcomings with his overall statistics and deeper purpose for the Penn State program, leading them out of its darkest tunnel in history.
Watching McSorley break Penn State records has become a regularity. He stands alone with the most passing yards, touchdown passes, total touchdowns and total offense in a single game. The Briar Woods High school native also holds program career marks in passing touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns as well.
There is no doubt watching McSorley lead the Nittany Lions’ offense to heights it had never reached before has been a spectacle to watch. With that said, his largest contribution to Penn State football is one that cannot be measured by statistics.
Following the sanctions handed down to Penn State by the NCAA following the discovery of conduct by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the program struggled mightily to get back to the national prominence it was so accustomed to.
Much similarly, McSorley struggled to reach the national spotlight. Especially playing behind NFL prospect Christian Hackenberg. The top two quarterbacks on the Nittany Lions’ depth chart appeared as polar opposites.
McSorley’s frame was rather small, and thus, many doubted his ability and he was not highly recruited to play the position. Meanwhile, Hackenberg had the textbook makeup of an early round draft pick poised for the next level. Although, despite the potential shown by Hackenberg, it was clear he did not fit into the acting offensive scheme following the departure of Bill O’Brien.
In the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl, the Penn State offense displayed a newfound production almost immediately after McSorley entered for an injured Hackenberg. This carried on throughout his career at Penn State, and helped bring the program back to a point of contention where some thought it would take ages, if at all.
No. 9 was a focal point and a team leader for one of the greatest turnarounds in the sport’s history. The team has posted a 29-8 record in his starts, compared to a 29-21 mark post-sanctions in four seasons prior to his appointment. Due to this, McSorley will go down as one of the saviors of Penn State football, and quite possibly the greatest quarterback in the school’s history, even if he does not find the national success to match those who proceeded him.
Penn State takes on Rutgers Saturday at noon, where McSorley looks poised to set yet again another school record. As his days in blue and white come to a close, it is important for the Penn State faithful to send one of their most loyal, hard-working and successful talents off with the same energy and passion he has shown on the field these past three seasons.
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