Penn State quarterback Will Levis, who announced he’s entering the NCAA transfer portal Thursday, is somehow 21 years old, has a bachelor’s degree, and has three years of football eligibility left.
It’s hard to see how all three of those things could be true, but here we are.
Levis started one game for the Nittany Lions in 2020 - when usual starter Sean Clifford seemed in serious need of a reboot - and played in the other eight. His pure physical gifts are considerable - he’s 6-3, 222 with a huge arm and a Tim Tebow-esque running style.
He has not yet shown an advanced understanding of or ability to execute the passing game. The only fix for that is time on the field, which surely has entered into Levis’ thinking.
Except that Penn State could afford him that time.
Clifford will be a fifth-year senior in 2021, and the only other scholarship QBs on the roster will be Ta’Quan Roberson, a redshirt sophomore who was clearly behind Levis, and true freshman Christian Veilleux.
Levis’ power-running skills have gotten him on the field even with Clifford as the No. 1 guy. So if he stays at Penn State, worst-case, he plays some in 2021, and has the inside track to start in 2022 and ‘23.
By then, however, he’ll be older than Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, the 2019 NFL MVP, is now.
Weirdly, Levis is the third Penn State QB to transfer out this offseason, joining 2019 signee Michael Johnson, Jr. and 2020 signee Micah Bowens. Those guys were buried on the depth chart, fourth- or fifth-string at best. Yet both seem to have landed on their feet, Johnson at Florida Atlantic and Bowens at (!) Oklahoma.
We do know that a pretty blue-chip recruit, Central York’s Beau Pribula, is coming in 2022. We also know, according to 24/7 Sports, that Penn State has just offered Drew Allar, a 2022 3-star QB from Ohio whose other offers include Iowa State, Pitt and about half the Mid-American Conference.
Nothing there to intimidate Levis, although we have no idea what happens next on the transfer portal, coming to or leaving Happy Valley. The QBs currently in the portal, like Miami’s Tate Martell and the McCaffrey brothers, Dylan of Michigan and Luke of Nebraska, wouldn’t be obvious threats to Levis, either.
The truth is this doesn’t have to make sense to us.
As the NCAA transfer rules were beginning to loosen, back in 2019, Levis said this to Mike Poorman of StateCollege.com:
“I understand where they’re coming from. Obviously, quarterbacks are the cornerstone of a team. It’s not like receiver, where 6-7 receivers can play in a game.
“I might disagree with someone’s opinion but I don’t know everything that is going on with that person and neither does anyone else in the media that’s why I feel bad for some of the kids who get bashed for making certain decisions because everyone isn’t aware of what’s really going on.’’
Fair enough. That was 20 months ago. Levis wasn’t even talking about his own situation.