Two Very Big Moves for Penn State – CalBearsMaven

Penn State this week will introduce one of the nation's top-ranked recruiting classes, welcoming a big group of diverse talent that could deliver some contributors in 2022.
But before that, the Nittany Lions secured two vital decisions that also cast its immediate future with two veterans. Sean Clifford is back as Penn State's potential fourth-year starting quarterback, and Manny Diaz is the new defensive coordinator.
The moves, announced on back-to-back days, underscored just how much head coach James Franklin values experience. With the nation's No. 4 recruiting class, Franklin wants seasoned people to guide it. Hence, he hired Mike Yurcich as offensive coordinator, Diaz as the defensive coordinator and prioritized Clifford's return.
The moves also signaled that Franklin envisions 2022 as more than a rebuilding year. A few thoughts, then, on their impact.
In November, Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour announced not only Franklin's new 10-year contract but also a shared commitment to funding the future.
"One of the things I love about our relationship is, we're always talking about what's next and what's required to, not just keep up, because I don't think we want to just keep up. We want to make sure we're doing everything we can from a Penn State perspective," Barbour said in an interview with Penn State's communications staff. "This is about Penn State, and what we have to do to be successful and chase that national championship that we all want."
Yurcich's hiring, Franklin's new contract and Diaz's arrival demonstrate that commitment, at least financially. Penn State is spending money on its football staff, as none of those moves came cheaply.
Diaz lands at Penn State after three seasons as Miami's head coach and certainly commanded a big price tag, even if his buyout language might mitigate some of Penn State's responsibility. But he also brings a pedigree.
Diaz guided some strong defenses at Miami, Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State. Yes, former Texas coach Mack Brown fired Diaz two games into the 2013 season, after BYU plowed through Diaz's defense for 550 yards rushing. But Diaz's defenses are known for generating turnovers and producing tackles for loss, two elements key to Franklin's approach.
Sure, Diaz might be a rental coordinator who takes another head-coaching position in a year or two. If he's successful, though, that will signal to other high-profile coaches that Penn State offers the resources and platform to win.
Further, Diaz said he was "disappointed" in the way Miami handled his dismissal. That certainly could fuel his recruiting pitches to players from Florida. 
With this hire, Penn State acted on Barbour's promise to invest in a contender.
Clifford could break every major Penn State career passing record and become the program's first quarterback to throw for 10,000 yards. Perhaps more important, though, he will take an elder's role at a changing position.
Clifford will be 24 next season in a room that will include three quarterbacks with freshman eligibility. He essentially will be a player/coach, giving Franklin and Yurcich the twin benefits of veteran playing experience and mentorship from their starter.
Penn State's 2021 quarterback situation grew particularly delicate after Will Levis transferred to Kentucky. The Lions had just three scholarship quarterbacks, one of whom (Christian Veilleux) had not played since 2019. Clifford's injury exposed the issue and contributed to losses vs. Iowa and Illinois.
Franklin did not want to confront such a lapse again. Had Clifford left, Penn State almost certainly would have gone to the NCAA Transfer Portal for an experienced quarterback. Clifford's return precludes that need, allowing the Lions to focus their transfer energy on other positions, notably the offensive line.
What's more, Penn State now has a No. 2 quarterback in Veilleux with some experience and two freshmen whom it can develop more deliberately. Drew Allar, among the nation's most promising young quarterbacks, can learn from a starter who has seen every conceivable situation.
Allar also doesn't have to face the freighted expectations of being a freshman starter, even though he still can compete for the job.
"Certainly that transition to college is not an easy one, even for a kid as talented as Allar," said John Garcia, Jr., Sports Illustrated's director of recruiting. "… I think he's ready for the spotlight, whenever it comes. But now it's not going to be forced, on him. That's going to be huge for both him and Penn State."
Penn State made some bold moves this weekend toward reshaping the 2022 football team. And Franklin proved that he now has the clout to compete. 
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