Trace McSorley has felt better. But the Penn State quarterback also has fewer issues now then he did a few days ago.
The Nittany Lions, as usual, aren’t going to go into detail about what exactly is ailing McSorley. Or how severe the injury he suffered in Saturday’s win over Iowa was.
But the senior was able to return after hurting his right leg against the Hawkeyes, sporting a knee brace and still being able to run through some pain for a 51-yard touchdown after missing three drives.
“It feels good,” McSorley said Wednesday. “Just going through getting treatment and that sort of thing, and I’m kind of gonna leave it at that. Just gonna continue to get treatment and keep practicing. Day by day, it just kind of keeps going on and getting better.”
That’s about as much as McSorley or Lions coach James Franklin was willing to say on the matter this week leading up to Saturday’s showdown with No. 5 Michigan.
“Obviously everybody knows he got dinged up in the game, so I’m not keeping that a secret,” Franklin said. “Well, literally by 7 a.m. he’s done more than most people do all day to give him the best chance to be healthy, to practice at a very, very high level, and then also to make sure that he can go and be present and dominate in the classroom.”
“We’re just going day-by-day, seeing what’s the best fit for me this week. … And what’s going to be the most comfortable, really, for me to be able to play on Saturday,” McSorley said.
Proper preparation: Ironically, McSorley was asked a few days before the Iowa game how he had been able to play the bulk of three seasons as the Lions’ starting quarterback without more than minor injuries despite how much the offense requires him to run.
McSorley spoke of preparation, nutrition and extensive work with strength coach Dwight Galt and his staff, the same group that kept Christian Hackenberg in action despite being sacked more than 100 times in his college career.
“Any sort of free time I have, I’m putting that into my body getting re-gen, an extra lift, stretching,” McSorley said.
Those inside the program credit McSorley’s work ethic.
“I would say actually the fact that he’s been playing this long and there have been very few times that he’s even laid on the field in the first place (says it all),” Franklin said. “The way he’s been able to develop because of his toughness, because he never misses practice, the way he’s been able to develop because of how he takes care of his body, how much sleep he gets at night. He’s never cramped.
“And I know these things sound small, but it’s because of his sleep and because of his nutrition and because of his hydration. Because he does all those things right allows him to practice at a high level every single day without losing time. Because of how he practices and because of how he trains allows him to play at a high level.”
Campbell finalist: Off the field, McSorley received another honor on Wednesday, as he was named one of 13 finalists for the Campbell Trophy, given to college football’s top scholar-athlete.
Candidates must be a senior or grad student in their final year of eligibility and have a a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale as well as being a starter or significant contributor on their team.
McSorley graduated in May with a degree in accounting and is working on a second degree in journalism. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, he spent the summer of 2017 interning for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.
As a finalist, McSorley receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Former Lions offensive lineman John Urschel won the award in 2013.
McSorley is also still in the running for the Maxwell Award, a national player of the year honor, and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, a trophy for upperclassman quarterbacks that also factors in off-the-field work.