Penn State quarterback, former five-star linebacker likely to transfer

The (Scranton) Times-Tribune (TNS)
Penn State quarterback Will Levis (7) in action against Rutgers during an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

One of Penn State's most productive offensive players and one of its top defensive recruits from the 2019 class likely will be playing elsewhere this fall.

Quarterback Will Levis, who temporarily claimed the starting job last season and spent most of the second half splitting time with Sean Clifford, announced Thursday he plans to enter the NCAA transfer portal.

So, too, is Lance Dixon, a one-time, five-star recruit who played sparingly the last two seasons as a backup outside linebacker.

Levis' decision is somewhat of a surprise, but it also might be an indicator of change coming at the quarterback position as offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich settles into his new role. As a sophomore, Levis provided a spark and some stability to Penn State's erratic offense last season, completing 33 of 55 passes for 421 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 260 yards and three scores, starting two games.

Levis said he is on track to graduate with his bachelor's degree in business in just three years, and he'll likely be an intriguing option for any program looking for a long-term quarterback option through the portal. Thanks to the NCAA's policy granting an extra year of eligibility to anyone who played last fall, Levis will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

"Penn State has provided me with everything I ever could have asked for from an academic, athletic and social development standpoint," Levis said in a statement.

"I am extremely proud to be leaving here as an alumnus."

During a press conference last week, head coach James Franklin gave no indication life without Levis could be imminent, saying Levis has the ability to be "a high-level player" with "a very, very bright future."

His departure leaves Penn State thin at quarterback. Clifford will return, but Franklin added that a big part of Yurcich's job will be the development of third-year player Ta'Quan Roberson and incoming freshman Christian Veilleux, a solid prospect who hasn't played since his junior year of high school in 2019.

"A big part of this is getting back to that position playing at a high level, and even taking the next step of playing really, really high-level football," Franklin said. "We all know whether it's NFL, college or high school, that position is critical to your overall team's success., and that position is critical to your offense's success, specifically."

Meanwhile, Dixon played in all nine games, registering 10 tackles. He started one game, but wasn't able to secure significant playing time even for a linebacker unit that struggled throughout 2020.