Penn State's Sean Clifford Opens NIL Agency, Looks Ahead to Final Season

Photo: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford enters his sixth season with Penn State in 2022 and he’s looking to make the most of his final year from both an on-the-field and off-the-field perspective.

Like many other college athletes, Clifford has gotten involved with NIL, but it’s not just him who will be reaping the benefits of this new era. Clifford recently launched Limitless NIL, an agency he founded that is by the athlete, for the athlete.

Clifford’s focus is on helping give athletes a way to build and promote their brand while simultaneously growing their financial understanding within a system that involves what he calls “three main pillars.” Clifford plans to expand the agency with things like internship opportunities for “peer advisors” that will help manage athletes from a day-to-day perspective.

“These pillars include financial education and literacy through a third-party source [called] Beacon Point,” Clifford said. “Beacon Point is a financial wealth management company that to get in the door with them, you would have to have half a million dollars of investable assets. But Beacon Point sees the value of each student-athlete across the country, so they dropped the requirement on investable assets for all of our Limitless athletes, which was fantastic. The second pillar is talent representation, so we’ll be going out and talking to the best of the best brands on their behalf to be able to land deals, partnerships, whatever they may be for each of our athletes.”

The 23-year-old has the same type of CEO mentality approaching the way he plays quarterback ahead of what he’s confident will be a big season for himself and the team. He assumes full responsibility for the way the year plays out.

“I think I’m damn near the oldest guy in college football, so I need to act that way and make sure I’m operating at a very high level getting us in the right play,” Clifford said. “I think that my coaches have done a great job allowing me to play a little bit more [freely] and be able to change plays within the system and have a very intricate plan to make sure that I’m operating at a high level. There are no excuses to be made for me at this point, I need to make sure I’m on top of things every single play and just executing like I should.”

Clifford received a lot of praise for what he showed on the field last year, looking notably more comfortable and in rhythm under Offensive Coordinator Michael Yurcich, who previously coached Sam Ehlinger at Texas.

Operating under Yurcich’s system is something Clifford said took some getting used to at first, but it didn’t take long for Clifford to make strides as an overall passer. Between that and the toughness he displayed using his mobility, Clifford became a tough opponent.

“I think that every offense I’ve played in is different for sure,” he said. “I think the thing with this offense is that it’s a good balance of high tempo and slowing it down and once you get in the groove of that, it becomes a little bit easier." 

He recalls the season-opener against the Wisconsin Badgers as a point of really trying to settle in, and he got the job done in the end, passing for 247 yards and one touchdown to lead Penn State to a 16-10 win.

“Early on against Wisconsin, the first half, [I was] trying to really maneuver through the tempos, the first in-game experience with that offense,” said Clifford. “That’s something that some people don’t realize, is that a new offense is going to have its kinks and the hurdles you have to jump. This is the first time as a starting quarterback at Penn State that I’ve had the same offense back-to-back years, so I’m extremely excited for this season just because of how comfortable I am right now.”

There were plenty of ups and downs for Clifford last year involving an injury to his right arm against Iowa that he says served as a reminder for him to not take things for granted. He was knocked out of the 23-20 loss to the Hawkeyes on Oct. 9 and wasn’t able to get back to in-game action until the Oct. 23 matchup against Illinois.

“There were so many memorable moments last year that were happy, that were sad,” said Clifford. “Both existed last year. Having to leave the Iowa game was huge because it was so detrimental for me, I was really bummed out. But it also makes you think, playing every play like it’s your last. I think that was kind of what that Iowa game brought to me because you never know when your last play is going to be up.”

Moving forward and preparing to take the next step of his career after this season, Clifford couldn’t be more confident in his abilities in what he brings to Penn State and an NFL team down the line.

“I think just consistency and my accuracy and pushing the ball down the field, I think that’s the number one,” Clifford said. “I’m continuing to pursue mastery in my mental game and making sure that my pre-snap is as good as my post-snap and that my standard operating procedure is the same every single time. Making sure that I’m treating every play the same, whether it’s a first down to start the game or the last play of the game to win the game.”

Written By:

Crissy Froyd

Feature Writer

Crissy Froyd is a graduating senior at LSU, also serving as the managing editor of the LSU division of USA TODAY SMG. Crissy has specialized primarily in quarterback analysis and features for the better part of her career and covers the Tennessee Titans in addition to the LSU Tigers.