MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) When New Orleans drafted former Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens in the final round of this year’s NFL draft, rumors swirled of Stevens potentially being “Taysom Hill 2.0” for the Saints due to his size and previous experience playing more than just the QB position in college.
Tommy Stevens warms up with the rest of Mississippi State's quarterbacks prior to a regular season game
Prior to his 2017 season at Penn State, Stevens had lost the starting quarterback position to Trace McSorley. Instead of watching games from the sideline all season long, Stevens approached former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead about how else he could get involved with the offense.
“Tommy is a great leader and a great teammate. He just wanted to be contributing in some capacity," Moorhead recalled. "We sat down as a staff and said you know, ‘What’s a way we can get him on the field without taking Trace off the field. He played running back, tight end, receiver…we were able to be really creative with it.”
That’s when the “lion” position was created specifically for Stevens, making him the Swiss Army Knife of Penn State’s offense. He still kept his usual quarterback position but also lined up as a halfback, running back, wide receiver and played tight end.
Stevens' intention wasn't to try and be a quarterback who can also serve in other roles. He had already done so growing up - playing safety until his sophomore year of high school when he switched to quarterback.
"I’ve been playing a lot of different positions growing up – my dad and uncles got me very involved with just doing whatever I could to get on the field," Stevens said. "I guess when I first started doing this thing I wasn’t like ‘hey coach make me like Taysom Hill’ and that’s not to take anything away from Taysom. Obviously he’s had great success with it with his new contract it’s worked out very well for him."
In the final regular season game of the 2017 season, Stevens ran for a career-high 113 yards and was responsible for four touchdowns with 3 being rushing touchdowns. He became the second Penn State quarterback in program history with 100-plus rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in a game, joining Eugene “Shorty” Miller.
Stevens expressed he does view himself as a quarterback first, which is why when the opportunity presented itself to transfer to Mississippi State and have a shot at being QB1, he jumped on it.
While his time in Starkville didn’t pan out the way he hoped it would due to constant injuries, he still landed on an NFL roster and has found himself in a pretty good situation in New Orleans. He gets to learn from a Super Bowl winning quarterback in Drew Brees and one of the best developmental head coaches in Sean Payton.
Stevens’ does want to one day be a starting quarterback in the NFL but for now, he is open to utilizing his skillets as a receiver and running back if that means helping the Saints win games.
“I do see myself as a quarterback first. I think that I can still grow and my best football is still ahead of me from the quarterback position but obviously doing whatever I can in any way to help the organization win football games I’m going to do because at the end of the day that's what matters," Stevens said. "If we're winning football games it doesn't matter if I’m playing running back, receiver, quarterback, holding water....whatever it is and however I can help, I’m going to help this team win football games so that's what I plan on doing."
As his longtime coach throughout his collegiate career, Coach Moorhead has seen firsthand Stevens’ potential and believes he will blossom into the player he is capable of being in New Orleans.
"I just want Tommy to be happy and like I said, I think he's getting in a great system with Coach Payton, their offense and that organization," Moorhead said. "Tommy's got that charisma and he can do whatever he wants to do. I hope for him though that he has a long and prosperous career in the NFL because I know that's what he wants to do."