Player Spotlight: Trace McSorley
Known for his precise deep passes and homerun swing celebration, Ashburn, Virginia’s Trace McSorley has turned into the quarterback many didn’t see coming.
Before he strapped on the blue and white, McSorley shined for Briar Woods High School, as he led the Falcons to a 55-5 record while appearing in four state championship games and winning three. A four-year starting quarterback, McSorley was responsible for over 12,000 yards and 150 career touchdowns.
Although finishing high school as a first-team all-state nominee, McSorley was recruited as an athlete, safety, and quarterback. A three-star prospect, McSorley originally committed to play for James Franklin at Vanderbilt.
When Franklin accepted the job at Penn State, McSorley decommitted and followed, sitting behind Christian Hackenberg on the depth chart until finally being given his first real chance during his redshirt freshman year against Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
From that moment on, it’s been all about growing for McSorley. The 2016 season saw McSorley win the starting quarterback job, making his debut with a 209-yard performance against Kent State. The first road game of the season was a trip to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers, who Penn State was playing for the first time since 2000.
Although the outcome isn’t what Penn State fans and players want to remember, McSorley showed a glimpse of what was to come. He was 24-35 passing for 332 yards and a touchdown. His 332 yards ranks No. 16 all-time on Penn State’s single-game passing list. Penn State almost came back in the second half, fighting hard to ultimately lose by three points.
That performance gave the young Nittany Lions something to build on.
“I think early on that was kind of a little confidence booster for us,” McSorley said. “We were able to have some success in the second half and claw and fight back and give ourselves a chance.”
The season would end successfully for Penn State, winning the Big Ten Championship and earning a birth in the Rose Bowl. A big part of that was McSorley, who started in all 14 games, and entered the record book for most single-season passing yards (3,614), total offense (3,979), and touchdowns (29). He also owns the Penn State record for 300-yard passing games in a season (5), and broke Hackenberg’s sophomore season passing record of 2,977 yards (3,614 yards).
This year’s edition of the team, led by Heisman trophy candidates Saquon Barkley and McSorley himself, remain hungry for even more success in 2017.
After one week of play, McSorley, now a veteran, has settled well into the offense, and understands what is needed out of him to be successful.
“If a play call is not there, it’s making it positive and getting positive yards,” McSorley said. “I think that’s the best way that you can get the whole team into a flow.”
McSorley and crew will look to get redemption after last year’s defeat, as No. 4 Penn State welcomes Pitt to Beaver Stadium for the first time since 1999.
Ben Jenkins is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.