Back to Work with Sean Clifford

Mark Wogenrich

For Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, the past two months throwing passes to brother Liam were valuable. And that dry-erase board he bought to draw plays was a worthwhile investment.

Don’t get Clifford wrong: Distance learning was fine, but now the returning starter wants as much time as possible in his new offense before the (expected) Sept. 5 opener at Beaver Stadium.

“I really hope, and I really believe, that we’re going to be in a good spot when we come back,” Clifford said recently. “I’m more worried about the amount of time. I want as much time as possible with my guys, so that way we can be as prepared as possible.”

Most Penn State players will resume voluntary workouts on campus June 15, the first step toward a functional preseason. The Lions haven’t had that yet, since spring drills were canceled before they began. Because of that, offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca hasn’t seen Clifford throw a pass in his system.

Ciarrocca and his quarterbacks adjusted to the circumstances, with the coordinator bringing an animated presence to position meetings. Clifford said that Ciarrocca occasionally winced while trying to point cameras on himself to demonstrate plays.

As a result, the installation process went as smoothly as possible, considering it was conducted primarily on video. Now, Clifford needs to throw. But he knows what must come first.

“The next step is getting back on campus, getting the team on campus, getting back in the weight room and on the practice field and seeing where everybody’s at,” Clifford said. “I haven’t seen everybody for, what is it, going on two months now. As an offense, the next step is mastering the offense.”

At home, Clifford has been drawing plays to send to teammates, “just trying to make the most of every minute of every day.” He also took advantage of having an in-house throwing partner.

Liam Clifford, a 6-1 receiver, is part of Penn State’s 2020 recruiting class who got ahead on his summer enrollment as well.

“At the very beginning [of the quarantine period], it was a little bit frustrating,” Clifford said. “But once you get in a good routine, then I felt pretty good. I’ve had my brother to throw to, and he’s been working his butt off to get ready for this season.

"That’s benefitted the both of us tremendously, to have each other to throw to. If he doesn’t want to run routes that day, he’ll catch me. We’ve made the most of it together.”

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