Stevens puts injuries in the past
Tommy Stevens seems keenly aware of the questions or concerns some fans may have about him, and Penn State’s projected starting quarterback tried to rebut a couple of the narratives Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after practice, Stevens addressed issues about him being able to stay healthy and also if he can be a strong passing quarterback rather than just a runner.
Stevens is limited somewhat in spring drills and may not play in next week’s Blue-White Game after undergoing surgery late last season, missing the Citrus Bowl. It’s unclear if the surgery was on his foot or leg, but it certainly opened up questions about whether he’ll be healthy enough this spring and summer to beat out Sean Clifford for the starting quarterback job.
Stevens was asked if he thinks the injuries that limited him for portions of last season are behind him.
“I do,” he said in a post-practice video posted at gopsusports.com.
He then went into a lengthy response about the perception of his injuries.
“I guess I’ve kind of been bothered by the whole injury-prone stigma, I guess you could say,” Stevens said. “Up until this point last year, I never missed a practice, in high school I never missed anything. Played a lot. I wouldn’t say that durability is an issue.
“I guess (the foot or leg problem) was just never really fixed the right way the first time. It was fixed right this time. I’m glad it was fixed right, and I guess I’m ready to prove my durability, my worth. So I’m excited to do that. Because I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t understand. I get it. I get why people think that. So I guess we’ll see.”
Earlier, Stevens was asked if he’s 100 percent, as well as when was the last time he was 100 percent.
“I feel really good right now, but it’s a lot of limitation just to make sure things are (done right),” he said.
“I was starting to get back into the swing of things in the season, and then had I guess a minor setback in the middle of the season, and it kind of just continued to get worse,” he added. “But that’s behind me. I had everything done that I needed to be done. Ahead of schedule, been doing everything right, and it feels really good.”
Aside from his health, the big question about Stevens is whether he will be able to stay in the pocket and deliver the ball down the field when pressure mounts. His predecessor, Trace McSorley, excelled at that, while in the opportunities Stevens has had to play, he has shown an instinct to take off and run instead of trying to look to pass.
Stevens went into another lengthy answer when asked about the whole issue of continuing to look downfield versus running the ball. He said it was merely him running the plays that were called and not a reflection on his instincts.
“That’s another thing that I guess I would say is maybe I was limited on Saturdays as far as what I was going to do throwing the football,” Stevens said. “I couldn’t really control what plays were being called as far as in what way I was going to be used until the games were out of hand. At that point, too, it’s almost like we’re running the clock out.
“But I understand. At the same time, I wouldn’t say there’s any adjustments. I mean, there are adjustments, but I don’t need to change anything drastically. I’ve taken the reps in practice, having some opportunities to throw the ball in games. It’s just going to continue to learn and grow because there’s really no ceiling on the quarterback position, so I’ve just got to continue to do what I can as good as I can and all in all just do my job.”
Stevens has had some limited opportunities to get on the field the past three years after barely losing the starting job to McSorley in 2016. Now, he will finally be in position to showcase his own all-around skills.
“I’m excited to play the position that I was committed here for,” Stevens said. “But at the same time, I’m thankful that I was given opportunities in the past to play other positions and get on the field.”
Having to sit and watch so much the past three years, he noted, “Obviously it was not what I pictured myself doing when I signed here. People sign here, obviously they want to play. So that’s been a difficult thing for me.
“As much as I am able to do, there was a limit,” he added. “And it really, I guess wasn’t in my power to control the limit of what I was going to do. I guess that was a difficult part of it. But not really trying to let it be about me and try to make it team first and do everything I can for the team was probably the biggest thing that I learned. And it really helped me grow.”