STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Not everyone can make playing with a chip on their shoulder work for them.
Or maybe not everyone can make that work for them as well as Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has.
From the time he started playing football, McSorley has been driven by proving people wrong.
Yes, he quarterbacked his high school in Virginia to three state championships. But he heard that he was too small. He was a 3-star prospect.
When he was being recruited he said he was going to play quarterback in college. Most college coaches said something like that’s nice, but we want you to play safety.
Three years as Penn State’s starting quarterback and 8,133 yards passing and 26 wins in 31 starts haven’t dulled the sting of those doubts. Actually, McSorley doesn’t want to forget them.
“That chip on my shoulder, I don’t think it goes anywhere. I think it has gotten me to where I am and it’s who I am at this point,” McSorley said at the Big Ten Conference football media days.
“I don’t want to lose that. I think it is one of the things that has gotten me there. The job is never done,” he said.
He completed 17 of 29 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 49 yards when Ohio State wiped out a 15-point Penn State lead in the fourth quarter to win 39-38 last season. In Penn State’s 24-21 win in State College, Pa. in 2016, he was 8 of 23 passing for 154 yards and a touchdown and ran for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Without his sidekick Saquon Barkley this year, McSorley is the clear No. 1 concern for Ohio State’s defense in Saturday’s match-up of No. 4 OSU and No. 9 Penn State in State College, Pa.
Last year’s game against Ohio State probably falls into the don’t forget category for McSorley, too.
“That Ohio State loss did stick with me for a while. It was a big learning point for us,” he said.
Penn State also lost 27-24 to Michigan State the week after losing to OSU. “We were five points away from an undefeated season and going to Indianapolis to play for the Big Ten championship and possibly being in the playoff conversation. We were so close last year. We don’t want to look back and say that same thing again,” McSorley said.
Saturday night’s game is a “White Out” game, a Penn State tradition that dates back to 2004, where almost every fan in Beaver Stadium wears white.
Penn State is 7-7 overall in “White Out” games, but it does seem to get the fans fired up, especially the student section.
“When they get that White Out going it’s like they’ve been drinking Red Bull all day,” McSorley said. “Those dudes are going nuts in the stands. You walk through the tunnel under the student section and you can feel it shaking. There’s dust coming down in the tunnel from the cement breaking up.”
Jim Naveau writes for the Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.