Penn State University quarterback Sean Clifford’s record setting college career ended in storybook fashion in the same legendary stadium where that dream was born over a decade ago. The sixth year senior lead his Nittany Lion squad to a convincing win over the number eight ranked Utah Utes in the Rose Bowl Monday evening, 35-21. Clifford was named offensive MVP of the game, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns.
It was hard to script a better ending for Clifford, a sixth year senior who started for four years, becoming the school’s all time career leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and completion percentage, to name a few. With his win at the aforementioned Rose Bowl, Clifford also became the winningest quarterback in school history.
Sean Clifford ➡️ Mitchell Tinsley for the TD 🌹 pic.twitter.com/luVp7wJ71H— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) January 2, 2023
His future includes NFL aspirations and a thriving Limitless NIL company that he co-founded and operates with his younger brother Liam and others.
In a recent interview with SC Daily, Clifford talked about seeing himself on a trading card for the first time, the importance of the sports card and memorabilia market, the inspirational poster of Peyton Manning that was on his wall as a kid and more.
Tony Reid–Whether it was at St. Xavier High School or once you got to Penn State University, can you share the story of the first time you were asked for your autograph?
Sean Clifford-The first time I was asked for an autograph was in high school. I started getting recruited a little earlier than most. It was my sophomore year. After I was starting as a sophomore, I remember kids coming up to me after a game and asking for my autograph. It’s a cool moment because you go to those games as a young kid, looking up to those players. To be that player at that time, it’s inspiring. You want to be that guy when you grow up. To have kids come up to me, it’s so cool. You want to give them that same experience.
TR- You have accomplished so much on the field and off to put yourself in a position of leadership and influence. What players inspired you the most growing up?
SC-I fell in love with football at a young age. I just posted a picture of me at the Rose Bowl in fourth grade going to a camp. In third, fourth and fifth grade I really developed my love and passion for football.
It was Peyton Manning on my wall along with Mark Sanchez and Brady Quinn. Just putting those names on my wall and what their brands stood for-intelligence, smarts, leaders and elite football players. That what I aspired to be. I woke up every day and I see these people on my wall and that’s what I wanted to be. That is the role model I would like to be. That is the legacy I hope to leave at Penn State, in college sports and the sports industry, being a leader that people can call upon for not always the information you want to hear but the information you need to hear.
how it started how it’s going pic.twitter.com/Qugg8ZGj5Y— Penn State Football🌹 (@PennStateFball) January 3, 2023
TR–With the new NIL rules in place you have already appeared on a number of licensed football cards. What was it like to see yourself on a trading card for the first time?
SC-The merchandising is very cool. It is a way you can display your brand in a physical product. When you work with the right people and the right players to create that merchandise it can be a very special moment. I remember my first card deal and seeing my card for the first time, feeling that card and checking out the information on the back. I did the trading card game when I was younger. It was a really cool moment. You are signing and seeing the different memorabilia and just being able to know you can monetize your name, image and likeness and use that to help support yourself and your family. I think it’s one of the best parts of sports.
TR–You own and operate the first student athlete run NIL business in Limitless NIL. What has it been like working with long running established companies such as Topps?
SC-I think the coolest part of NIL is getting to experience some of the deals and getting to experience some of the companies that come along with these deals. The history of the companies and the history of what they have done and the players that have done deals similar and the brands that they have worked with. That is the coolest thing. Looking at the greats like Tom Brady and what he has done in branding himself with the Brady Brand, and similarly with Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning and the Mannings in general. Realistically college athletes across all spectrums, there are so many brands out there and that’s where from a merchandising aspect and a business aspect that I find so fun because you can share that passion you have for the sport with the fans in a direct way.
TR–You are one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever put on a blue and white jersey at Penn State University. We all know how about the environment in Happy Valley on Saturdays. What is your fondest memory of your time in Beaver Stadium?
SC– It’s tough to say. I’ve been there awhile. I have had so many cool experiences at Penn State, experiences I wouldn’t give up for the world. That is the reason I went to Penn State, to be in moments like that. I have those stories and can look back and tell my kids and my grandkids about all of the fun experiences I had at Penn State. The Whiteout is tough to beat, that’s for sure. When you run out in front of 110,000 people all wearing white and cheering, it gives you goosebumps. Whenever I walk through the tunnel, it could be an empty stadium, I automatically get goosebumps. If I watch the game back on YouTube or on TV, I get goosebumps. There is something about college sports that drives passion. When you can feel that passion and you can feel that energy and when it’s honed, that is where you have something special and that is where Beaver Stadium will always be special in my mind.