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Penn State football quarterback Sean Clifford announces he'll return for 2022 season

JOE JULIANO
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford throws a pass against Ohio State during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State won 33-24. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, who will complete his third season as a starter in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, announced Friday he will return to the Nittany Lions for a sixth year.

In a statement, Clifford who will turn 24 less than a month before the start of 2022 training camp, said one of the reasons for his return was a chance to play with his younger brother, Liam, a wide receiver who redshirted this season in his first year in the program. Sean is eligible for the extra year that was awarded by the NCAA due to the pandemic.

"Penn State is more than football for me," he said in a statement on Twitter. "It is family. My teammates, coach [ James] Franklin, the staff and the community have shaped me into the man I am today and I am forever grateful. I am beyond thankful for my support system I have back home as my mom, my dad and my brother have stood by me every step of the way.

"With that being said, I will be returning to Penn State to play one more season in the Blue & White. I could not pass up the chance to be with his family and play the game I love again. The opportunity to play alongside my brother, Liam, and the rest of my brothers on the team made this decision easy.",

Clifford has completed 62.4% of his passes for 2,912 yards and 20 touchdowns with just six interceptions this season. He has had four 300-yard passing games, topped by his 401 yards against Villanova on Sept. 25.

Clifford had not tipped his hand to what his future plans were prior to Friday's announcement. In his last interview with Penn State beat writers on Nov. 10, he said he would have discussions with his family and coaches "when the time comes."

He was interviewed last Monday by the National Football Foundation, where he was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy given to the nation's top scholar-athlete, and said he didn't know what the future would bring.

Five scholarship QBs set for 2022: The return of Clifford means the Nittany Lions are likely to have five scholarship quarterbacks heading into 2022. The program expects to sign Drew Allar, a five-star prospect from Medina, Ohio, and Beau Pribula, a three-star recruit from Central York, next week to national letters of intent.

When Clifford went down with an upper-body injury on Oct. 9 against Iowa, Penn State had just two scholarship quarterbacks available. Redshirt sophomore Ta'Quan Roberson finished up in a 23-20 loss to the Hawkeyes. When Clifford left the Nov. 20 game against Rutgers because of illness, freshman Christian Veilleux came on and completed 15 of 24 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

Brisker, Ebiketie honored: A pair of Penn State fifth-year players, safety Jaquan Brisker and defensive end Arnold Ebiketie, were named second-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America. Brisker is fourth on the team in total tackles with 64, including 5.5 tackles for loss, and has two interceptions. Ebiketie, a transfer from Temple, has 62 tackles (fifth on the team) with 17.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.