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Take Two: Is Penn State QB Trace McSorley a future first-rounder?

Trace McSorley
Trace McSorley (AP Images)

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the network of team sites.

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CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team



Not many colleges wanted Trace McSorley as a quarterback - recruiting him instead as a safety. But Penn State gave him the chance, and it has worked out incredibly well.

The former three-star athlete from Ashburn (Va.) Briar Woods has posted 7,184 passing yards with 57 touchdowns and 18 interceptions the last two seasons and also rushed for 18 scores in revitalizing Penn State’s offense. He will be without star running back Saquon Barkley and stud offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead (now the head coach at Mississippi State) this season but McSorley is still surrounded with talent.

An undersized quarterback who plays with a chip on his shoulder, McSorley was doubted coming out of high school, but is putting up huge numbers in college. McSorley sounds a lot like former Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, the first pick taken in the NFL Draft last month.

Does the comparison work? On the field, it seems to. Like Mayfield, McSorley can prolong plays with his athleticism and then find open receivers downfield. When he needs to run for yards, McSorley is fearless. He’s undersized - McSorley is listed generously at 6-feet on the Penn State website - and there will be NFL evaluators who knock him for not being taller, just as it was a concern with Mayfield.

Mayfield was picked first overall in an absolutely loaded quarterback draft. The 2019 QB crop is not nearly as good, so could McSorley - especially if he has another outstanding season in Happy Valley - creep into that first-round discussion? Or are there far more factors in play, and McSorley is not of Mayfield’s caliber as a prospective NFL starter?

FIRST TAKE: Nate Bauer, 

“That’s a question I don’t dare to answer with any level of authority or certainty. But put it this way: If Baker Mayfield has a successful debut season in the NFL, I think it helps McSorley tremendously. I’m just not familiar enough with Mayfield to know in what ways he might differentiate himself from McSorley, but I do think that the hurdle to drafting an 'undersized' quarterback that is a winner, first and foremost, might not be what it once was. Assuming McSorley continues his career trajectory - specifically as it comes to his accuracy that was vastly improved last year from his sophomore effort - the idea of McSorley earning a middle-round draft pick isn’t really much of a stretch at all. He checks all the other boxes, on the field and off, and especially in the wins column. Will that be enough for an NFL team to be convinced of his worth? It only takes one, so I’m of the mindset that will ultimately be the case.”

SECOND TAKE: Mike Farrell,

“He’s the closest thing in college football to Mayfield, but I don’t think it helps McSorley in the draft. I don’t see him as being a potential first-rounder. Something about McSorley, he’s a talented kid but he doesn’t seem to have the same moxie, leadership, arm strength, knack for making crazy plays. He’s a very good college football player but I’d be surprised if he was a first-rounder. When you’re talking college football to college football, McSorley is the guy who’s closest to Mayfield for next year.”