Penn State senior quarterback Tommy Stevens will participate in spring practice, but just how active he will be remains to be seen, according to James Franklin.
"At this point, he'll be limited for the beginning of spring," Franklin said Wednesday prior to Penn State's first practice of the year. "Depending how spring goes and how he's doing, it could be full-go by the end of spring. But I'm not sure."
Stevens, who returned to his home state of Indiana for surgery in January, is still recovering from the procedure to address a re-injured outer right foot ailment. Stevens missed Penn State's bowl trip to Orlando, despite hobbling through much of the regular season, making appearances in six games during the 2018 campaign.
“Tommy had an injury at about the midway point of the season that (the media) weren’t aware of,” Franklin said in Orlando at the time when asked about Stevens' health. “We had a lot of discussions about when’s the right time to have the surgery. Tommy’s family and the staff decided that the best time to have the surgery was once his academics were finished up and he got through the season."
Clearly never completely healthy last year, Stevens will enter this spring looking to compete with sophomore Sean Clifford for the starting job in the wake of three-year starter Trace McSorley's graduation. Clifford attempted seven passes in 2018, completing five of them for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
"We got into a situation where Sean was able to take advantages of some of those opportunities that Tommy wasn't available for," Franklin mentioned at an earlier media session. "And now Sean has gained a lot of confidence from that experience as well. But I've got so much respect for Tommy. I've got so much confidence in Tommy."
For James Franklin, the changing of the guard in the quarterback room will mark the fifth time in his head coaching his career he has had to work in a new starter, and just the third time while at Penn State. Both McSorley and Christian Hackenberg started multiple seasons.
Austyn Carta-Samuels is the only quarterback under Franklin's watch to start just one season, Stevens — if healthy and selected for the job — would make for a second, in his final year of eligibility.