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Former Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford earns one final honor as a Nittany Lion

After an up and down collegiate career, Sean Clifford ended his time at Penn State on a high note.



Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, Penn State Football, Big Ten Medal of Honor
Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) celebrates the victory against the Utah Utes at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Few Penn State football players have had as long or as wild a career in the Blue and White as Sean Clifford. Over his six-year career in Happy Valley, the former Penn State quarterback experienced many ups and downs between the white lines. No matter how you felt about Clifford on the football field, few could argue that there was a better spokesperson for Penn State off of it. It’s only fitting that ex-Nittany Lion signal caller would earn one final award that recognizes the full scope of his career, as recently Sean Clifford was selected as a Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient.

Former Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford wins Big Ten Medal of Honor

Each year since 1915, the Big Ten has selected students from each member institution who “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work” to be awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Today, the distinction goes to a male and female student from the graduating class of each school in the conference based on their “demonstrated excellence on and off the field” during their careers. On Wednesday, Penn State announced that former quarterback Sean Clifford had been selected as a recipient for the 108th Big Ten Medal of Honor class.

Despite challenging and injury-plagued seasons in 2020 and 2021, Clifford persisted to become one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in Penn State football history. By the time he rode off into the sunset as Rose Bowl MVP in January, Clifford was the program’s all-time leader in completion percentage (.614), passing yards (10,661), passing touchdowns (86), and wins as a starting quarterback (32), among other categories.

But Sean Clifford was just as accomplished in the community during his time in Happy Valley. Clifford’s efforts to help fellow college athletes navigate the NIL landscape as founder and CEO of Limitless NIL have been well documented in recent years. The former Penn State quarterback was also highly involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Centre County and presented a $15,000 donation to the organization during his time in State College.

Softball’s Lexie Black also brings home Medal of Honor

In addition to Clifford, Penn State softball standout Lexie Black was selected as the university’s female recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Black appeared in all 47 of Penn State softball’s games in 2023 and led the team in home runs (10), doubles (15), and RBIs (36). Black also finished the year with the ninth-best on-base plus slugging percentage in the conference and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection.

Lexie Black was as successful in the classroom as she was on the softball diamond at Penn State. Recently earning her degree in veterinary science and biomedical sciences, Black carried a 3.91 GPA and won College Sports Communicators Academic All-District accolades in 2023. A recipient of the Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship, Black will now pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Nebraska.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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