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Penn State QB Deletes Social Media Over Threats

Brock Fritz

Penn State’s Sean Clifford briefly removed himself from social media earlier this month.

The sophomore quarterback told reporters, including ESPN, Tuesday that he deleted his accounts due to death threats he received following a 31-26 loss at Minnesota on Nov. 9.

Penn State had entered the game 8-0 and ranked fourth in the College Football Playoff poll, while unbeaten Minnesota was ranked 17th. Clifford completed 23 of 43 passes for 340 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in the loss.

That’s when the messages started to roll in. Clifford decided he didn’t need to read them.

“I usually delete it closer to games, but I completely deleted it after the Minnesota game," said the first-year starter, who has thrown for 2,450 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. "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 played through it, completing 11 of 23 passes for 179 yards and one touchdown while running for two touchdowns in Saturday’s 34-27 home win over Indiana, and has reactivated his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

"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.”

Penn State released a statement that the “Penn State Police are aware of these allegations and have been providing support to the affected student.” Penn State head coach James Franklin is also aware of the situation.

“I don't know where we are as a society. It's concerning," Franklin said this week. "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.”

Clifford, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, and the Nittany Lions will be back in the spotlight Saturday, as they’re ranked eighth heading into a game at No. 2 Ohio State (10-0). Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields also showed Clifford support this week.

“That’s just crazy to me,” Fields told 247Sports. “I feel like people don’t understand athletes and our point of view. We’re more than an athlete. So just receiving death threats over a loss like that, that’s – I don’t even know what to say to that because that just blows my mind. And I know Sean. Sean’s a great kid, a great guy, and we’re friends. So just hearing that from him, that really just blows my mind.”

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