Rob DemovskiESPN Writer3 minute read
GREEN BAY, Wis. — When Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford visited Lambeau Field before the NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers showed him around the locker room.
At this time, Aaron Rodgers’ nameplate was still hanging on top of the first locker on the right as you entered. Fast forward to this week’s rookie minicamp and Clifford, a fifth-round pick, found himself in front of that same locker.
Only this time the nameplate said “Clifford 8”.
Not only did he inherit Rodgers’ old locker, but he was assigned the jersey number that Rodgers will wear with the New York Jets.
Before the Packers rookies even hit the field for Friday’s first minicamp practice, Clifford said he was told a time or “probably more than 10” about the locker.
“Obviously I understand who was here before and I respect everything about it,” Clifford said. “At the same time, I walked in and found my name on the plate and sat down. I do whatever it takes to win games here. I really appreciate the opportunity. Green Bay has a guy who’s gonna come in and give it my all, and I can promise that. I’m just trying to create my own legacy now and keep improving.
Clifford’s locker is in a row that also included replacing Rodgers as the starter. Jordan Love’s locker is four stalls away.
“It’s a locker for me, and I’m just excited to be in the locker room with these guys,” Clifford said. “As long as you see your name, right? That’s all that matters to me – just being in the NFL and having this opportunity, the one I’ve been dreaming of for so long, and having it as a reality, that’s all that matters.”
The backup job behind Love is wide open, and Clifford and returning practice squad quarterback Danny Etling are the only contenders at this point. General manager Brian Gutekunst said after the draft that he had no immediate plans to sign a veteran because he wanted those three quarterbacks to get as many snaps as possible during the offseason program.
Clifford, 24, who is actually three months older than Love, spent six years at Penn State, where he set school records for quarterback wins (32), passing yards (10,661 ) and touchdown passes (86), among others. Brands.
“I feel like a tower, for sure,” Clifford said. “I’m thrilled to be a rookie. I’m thrilled to be the youngster. I was the old-timer for a while. Especially in college, I was leaving at 24 and I had 17-year-olds, 18 years in not just the same room but around me that I have to rely on and teach.
“It’s nice to come in. … I get to ask so many questions. It’s nice to grow because that’s what I plan to do. I don’t plan to stay stagnant. I plan to learn from Jordan , to learn from Danny and be able to pick up the thoughts of everyone around me.”