Penn State football facing challenges at offensive line, Clifford growing all around

Story posted April 14, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Jack McCune

Although Penn State’s annual Blue-White game is less than two weeks away, James Franklin told the media after Wednesday’s practice outside Holuba Hall that he’s still deciding on the format of the scrimmage.

His reason to wait comes from the status of his offensive line, which he said is shallow from a health and depth standpoint.

He’s not sure how many guards and tackles will be ready to go next Saturday with players missing reps, like redshirt junior Sal Wormley, who is still recovering from an apparent injury he suffered last season.

“I want to make [the Blue-White game] as game-like as I possibly can,” Franklin said. “[But] it doesn’t make sense to make a whole lot of plans right now when we’re still over a week out.”

Franklin mentioned a sense of urgency in getting some players back as well as bolstering his offensive line this summer through recruiting.

He said the full implementation of NIL has caused him to make more adjustments in the recruiting process with a more “aggressive and bold” approach.

“It’s such a factor now that you could do … everything perfect, and out-recruit everybody, but you could lose a guy because of NIL opportunities [elsewhere].”

Senior quarterback Sean Clifford is helping his team’s case with the launch of his agency Limitless NIL, which has already helped his teammate Ji’Ayir Brown sign a deal with Snap Custom Pizza in State College.

Clifford said his decision to return to Penn State was separate from the choice to start his company, but he said he wants to help student athletes ease their stress from NIL while opening the door for new opportunities and networking.

“It’s not always about the monetary value that you’re receiving,” Clifford said. “It’s about the value that you’re getting past the money.”

The starting quarterback talked about his meetings with Fortune 500 companies and how he’s brought his entrepreneurial skills to the locker room.

The 23-year-old quarterback said he not only wants to be a leader, but he wants to put in the work to form good relationships with the younger players coming in.

And being five years older than early enrollees Drew Allar and Beau Pribula, he talked about the different generation that he was working with, mentioning when he asked for the two 18 year olds’ phone numbers, they instead wanted to add him on Snapchat.

“It’s my job to be that leader but also connect with them,” Clifford said.

He also talked about his robust relationship with transfer wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley. Despite just meeting each other a few months ago, the two are already roommates and building chemistry both on and off the field.

Franklin hopes skill players like Tinsley can succeed with the lack of depth on the offensive line. He said the offensive line issues have brought an extra challenge to the table.

“You really have to be careful … that it doesn’t limit the development of a bunch of other positions,” Franklin said. “It makes it really hard to practice the way you want to practice and then other units and other positions get impacted by it. [But] I think we’ve managed it pretty well.”

Jack McCune is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email