Through 10 games this season, Penn State sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford has thrown for 2,450 yards, 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions en route to a 9-1 record and spot within the AP Poll Top 10.
He’s also gotten death threats from Nittany Lion supporters. Life comes at you fast.
After throwing for three interceptions in a 31-26 loss to #11 Minnesota on November 9, Clifford received obscene messages and death threats via social media for his performance in Penn State’s sole loss of the season.
Clifford told reporters Tuesday that the threats became so outlandish that he deleted his social media accounts.
“I usually delete it closer to games, but I completely deleted it after the Minnesota game,” Clifford told reporters. “It’s kind of sad to say, but you know how fans sometimes get. … It gets a little crazy. I was kind of, I guess, sick and tired of getting death threats and some pretty explicit and pretty tough-to-read messages.”
Clifford has since reactivated his Twitter and Instagram accounts after Penn State released a statement that it is “aware of these allegations and have been providing support to the affected student.”
Penn State coach James Franklin used the incident as a microcosm for a shame-and-blame society.
“I don’t know where we are as a society. It’s concerning,” Franklin said. “We’re 9-1, we’re ranked in the top 10, I think. We’ve had a pretty good year based on most people’s standards, and sometimes you go on social media and you wouldn’t feel that way.”
With Penn State taking on the undefeated second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes this upcoming Saturday, the last thing Clifford is using his bandwidth on are some sad trolls online.
“You learn how to deal with certain things and how certain people are just gonna react because, you know, it’s a very passionate game with a lot of passionate people,” Clifford said. “Our fans are definitely one of if not the most passionate in the country. I just try to stay away from it. I appreciate all of the positive people that are around, but there’s also people that try to tear you down.
“It’s always just been better to keep your head away from that kind of stuff.”