Ranking Penn State Football’s best QB Options in the Transfer Portal

Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan (Image via USA TODAY Sports)
Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan (Image via USA TODAY Sports) /
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Penn State football has been aggressive in the transfer portal thus far but has yet to land the big headline or add a quarterback.

Penn State Football head coach James Franklin was open with the media when talking about his plans for the transfer portal this offseason. So far, he has not disappointed as Penn State football has landed commitments from former Baylor running back John Lovett, South Carolina cornerback John Dixon and their newest addition, Duke defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo.

Until this offseason, the biggest addition the Nittany Lions had made from the portal was kicker Jordan Stout, so it is fair to say this is out of the ordinary for Franklin and this program.

Franklin had previously been a vocal critic of the portal and transfers, as has athletic director Sandy Barbour, however, this is college football in 2020 and sometimes it’s adapt or die.

The Nittany Lions’ 2021 recruiting class has only 15 members through the early signing day period, marking the smallest class of Franklin’s tenure at Penn State. The small class gives Penn State the flexibility to add through the portal for the first time.

All three players seem to be guys that will come in right away, and either start or make significant impacts, however, the pending quarterback decisions continue to loom over the program. Quarterback Sean Clifford finished the season strong, leading the conference in passing yards(1,883) and touchdowns(16).

It’s Clifford’s play early on in the season that resulted in him being benched week 4 at Nebraska that Penn State football can’t just write off, and why the portal may provide an answer to their quarterback problems.

The success stories of Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts, and Joe Burrow make the transfer portal seem like a no brainer for a team like Penn State football to search for a quarterback.

But, for every Fields there is a Chase Brice, Anthony Brown and Jake Bentley. All three quarterbacks, who went elsewhere and ended up losing a quarterback battle in their new home. The wild card could potentially be a quarterback that is on one of the four playoff teams who has yet to enter the portal, which could shale things up in a few weeks.

There is no sure fire home run like a Fields or Burrow in the portal this offseason, and with proven quarterbacks like McKenzie Milton and Charlie Brewer off the board, Penn State football is faced with the question; are any of these guys a significant upgrade over Clifford? a player who now has a year in this offense under his belt, is comfortable with their receivers? A swing and a miss in the portal at the most important position in the sport could do more harm then any Clifford overthrow or interception.

Let’s take a look at and rank the three best quarterback options left in the transfer portal right now:

Jack Coan – Wisconsin

Penn State football fans will be familiar with this name, as Coan spent the last three years at Wisconsin, starting 19 games over 2018 and 2019 before an injury sidelined him for all of 2020.

In his first full year as a starter in 2019, Coan threw for 2,727 yards and 18 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions, leading the Badgers to the Big Ten Championship game and eventually the Rose Bowl, where they would lose by 1 point to the Oregon Ducks.

The Sayville, New York native is by no mean a dual threat, as he ran for a mere 22 yards last season. Coan is a pocket passer and really defines the term “game manager” in every sense of the word. With only eight interceptions in 19 starts, the former Badger will not throw you out of a game, but will not win you one either.

Coan’s high watermark for passing yards in a conference game is 280, coming in last years regular season finale against Minnesota. The senior is efficient though, completing just about 70% of his passes in his career.

Coan is not a more talented passer nor a better athlete than Clifford, who ran for 335 yards this season, but would most likely provide more stability at the position, in terms of not turning the ball over. Franklin mentioned turnovers seemingly after every loss this season, and could be intrigued by a guy like Coan, especially as a grad transfer who will only be here for one year.