Sean Clifford Proves He’s a Pro At Penn State’s Pro Day
* All Penn State Pro Day stats are unofficial *
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford capped off his senior season with an immaculate performance in the ‘Granddaddy of Them All.’
On the biggest stage of his career, Clifford shined going 16-for-21, for 279 yards and two touchdowns; he played about as flawless as could be and put his abilities on full display.
For a borderline pro prospect, surely that’s what he needed to propel him to into draft conversations.
About a month later, the NFL Combine invitees came out, and Clifford was not among them.
A quarterback who just won the Rose Bowl and now holds numerous records at a notorious program like Penn State to not get at least an invite – especially when the last two Nittany Lions quarterbacks got drafted – makes you scratch your head a little bit.
It was just fuel to the fire for Clifford.
“I felt disrespected for sure… Just being able to come out here and show scouts what I got, and being able to really just put on a show,” Clifford said. “It's been a lot of fun and is good way to cap off a great career at Penn State.”
On Friday, March 24 Penn State’s Pro Day took place inside of Holuba Hall with all 32 NFL teams and scouts in attendance. When the curtains were drawn back, Clifford stepped up into the spotlight and was the star of the show.
He started things off with a 9-foot-8 broad jump, which places him just outside the top five of quarterbacks in 2023.
Then, Clifford stepped up to the 40-yard dash line and posted a 4.64 – solid, but not up to his standards. So he made the second one count, stripping off his shirt and shaving off a whole .7 seconds.
Clifford’s unofficial 4.57 sits fourth among 2023 quarterbacks, behind Anthony Richardson (4.43), Max Duggan (4.52), Malik Cunningham (4.53) and Dorian Thompson-Robinson (4.56) – all notable dual-threats.
Clifford’s athletic ability is on the list of what scouts are saying they like about him as a pro prospect.
“Not a lot of quarterbacks can pop a 4.5. So I'm very proud of that time,” Clifford said. “[Also] just being able to make a play. I’m trying to show a little bit of that, you know, and throw some deep balls out here.”
It’s fair to say that Clifford did that, including one he chucked and completed that went almost 70+ yards in the air.
His on the field performance was scout striking, which adds to his already impressive off the field resume.
He was the CEO of his own company, Limitless, which aims to help athletes navigate the new NIL space. However, he recently sold it to TEAM Group Holdings. Clifford’s still a partner on the board, but his full-time focus is on the NFL.
“It really allowed me to be able to focus on the draft, because that is my main priority,” Clifford said. “But I think the business side really opened up my eyes to a different type of leadership, being able to work with a bunch of different people and create a company, it was a lot of fun.”
Clifford’s work ethic and leadership are some of his most defining qualities, according to his teammates.
“I’m a leader, and I can play the pro-style offense. I’ve had four offensive coordinators, so I’ve just learned so much and been able to take so much from every single OC and quarterback coach and just kind of make my game,” Clifford said. “I feel like I can really provide a lot of value to a team, whether that’s being the guy or being a two or three.”
Clifford went through four offensive play-callers during his time at Penn State – Joe Moorhead, Ricky Rahne, Kirk Ciarrocca and Mike Yurcich and found success with all of them. That’s no coincidence, but an ode to the head on his shoulders.
“That's what the league looks for a lot of times; can you come in, you know, Week 2 or Week 16 or whenever, and make plays and win the game,” Clifford said. “I had a lot of wins with a lot of teams here and I’m proud of the body of work I put in… [I feel like I did enough] to get into a pro QB room, then once I get in there it’s just proving that I’m that guy.”
Penn State has had upwards of 50 players drafted in the NFL since sanctions struck in 2012, and after his Pro Day performance, Clifford looks to be a part of the next addition to that number. He’s first in Penn State history in passing yards, touchdowns, completions (and attempts), completion percentage and wins, but on top of all that, he has a mind made of gold.
It takes a special player to endure all that Clifford did at Penn State but still find success, and one who deserves a chance at becoming a late-round steal for the team that takes a stab at him.
Zach Donaldson is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism