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COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. -- Sean Clifford has experienced an intriguing journey to the NFL, one which led him to playing six years at Penn State and becoming the school's all-time leader in passing yards (10,661) and passing touchdowns (86). Clifford's tenure at Penn State paid off, as he was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft -- despite having just one top-30 visit in a deep quarterback class.

Clifford earned the No. 2 quarterback job in Green Bay, helping Jordan Love emerge as one of the top young quarterbacks in the league. Winning the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl at Penn State was a major accomplishment, but Clifford showcased in his rookie season with the Packers he belonged in the NFL and showed the potential he can stick around in Green Bay. 

Although Clifford played just three games with the Packers in his rookie season (including the wild card playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys), Green Bay's No. 2 quarterback made the most of his opportunities in his rookie season and is primed to return to his role entering his second season.

As Clifford prepares for his second season in the NFL, CBS Sports caught up with the Packers quarterback and Penn State legend at the Collegeville Bakery. Clifford was visiting "The Bakery" for the first time and took a few minutes to discuss his first year in the NFL, Jordan Love, and the Packers' 2023 season. 

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How did you find out about the Collegeville Bakery? This is a home spot for me!

Clifford: "This pretty lady right here, my fiance Juliana Alessandroni (points to Juliana as she smiles), she lives 10 minutes down the road. She raves about this place and has been going here forever. I had to pop in, especially when I saw my name pop up on the board. I was pretty excited! 

"When Julia and I actually got engaged. Steve (Collegeville Bakery owner Steve Carcarey), actually put both our names up on the board and tagged us on social media. It was so cool to see. I had to get over here."

So, it's fair to say you're active on social media?

Clifford: "Active. For sure (laughing). I take a step back during the NFL season, but I like to keep some sort of social presence at times."

Steve Carcarey

Can you reflect on your six years at Penn State? For some reason I almost said seven (both laughing)

Clifford: "Six years, it gets confusing right! It was a lot of fun. My first two years when I was playing behind Trace (former Penn State and current NFL quarterback Trace McSorley), just learning form him and really getting to understand the offense and how college football works. 

"Then the minute I stepped into the starting role for the four years I was there. Lots of ups, lots of downs. I learned a lot, but was able to battle through adversity. It was a lot of fun." 

You had one top-30 visit, and it was with Green Bay. Did you think they were going to draft you? 

Clifford: "Honestly, at the beginning of the draft process I was unsure. I was like 'Okay I might have a chance in the back rounds, like sixth or seventh -- more seventh to undrafted. The closer I got to the draft, the more I realized I was making good impressions on coaches. 

"When draft day hit, I knew my name wasn't on the boards or anything. I personally did believe at that point I was (going to get drafted). I was in the conversations, I was in the rooms. The day of (the draft) I was getting calls on calls on calls from head coaches and general managers. I'm thinking 'that's gotta be a good sign.'

"On Day 3, I definitely felt I had a chance. Lucky enough, Green Bay picked me up and it was a great year."

What's the anticipation process for someone just waiting for his name to be called?

Clifford: "Oh, it's the edge of your seat. It's literally a draw dropping moment, one that I know myself, my family will always remember. Just an awesome moment when my name was called. One of the best I've ever had." 

How was your rookie year in Green Bay?

Clifford: "It was fun. A lot of fun. I learned a lot. We weren't a great team at the beginning of the year, I think everyone would say that. But we knew what we had and we overcame a lot of adversity.

"We lost four straight at one point, but we came back and started winning some big games. By the end of the year, we sneaked our way into the playoffs and made a run. We really had a chance to beat the 49ers. I know you all saw the outcome, but they're a great team. At the end of the day, it was a toss up at the end of the game. 

"We'll be back next year with a vengeance. We're all ready to attack 2024." 

What did you see in Jordan Love's game and how he improved over the course of the year? 

Clifford: "Oh it was tremendous to watch him. You saw it in OTAs and training camp, him making spectacular plays. Then you get to the games -- and I know he didn't have the hottest start -- but you saw it in practice. You're like 'When this guy turns it on, he's gonna make a splash.'

"Now remember this is his first year starting, so you had to give him a little bit of time. We all knew the minute he turns it on, he would make a splash. Now, he's arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now."

What did you do to help him get to that level?

Clifford: "Just being an ear for him, no matter what he needs. Meeting with Jordan (Love) for extra film, talking through a concept, talking through progression, whatever it might me. Just always being there, being the best backup you possibly can. 

"Alongside of that as I stay ready, it also pushes him to get better and better. It's a super-healthy competition, it's a super-healthy relationship, and a good room to be in." 

I love to ask rookies this question. When did you know you could play in this league?

Clifford: "(Smiling). I have to say when we went down to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, against the Bengals in joint practices. And I had a good first day of practice, but I didn't play as well as I wanted. Then game the preseason game and we won. I played the majority of the game and made some big plays in that game. 

"That was the moment I knew I could play in this league."

Did you say that to yourself or how did you self-reflect to that?

Clifford: "Oh absolutely! The minute I walked back (to the locker room), I knew I put up good stats and the team won. And don't know when you're going through OTAs and training camp. It's one thing to do it in practice, but it's another thing when the bullets are flying live and you gotta make decisions fast. We all know that from watching (film).

"For me, getting out there and really getting the feel of the offense. Making some plays with a bunch of guys, that's when I knew and things started to click." 

Who's the toughest guy you've gone against in practice or a game so far?

Clifford: "Oh that's tough! I've had the pleasure of going up against a lot of good players. Just on my team alone, Rasul Douglas, Jaire Alexander were two guys I went up against every day. Eric Stokes was another one. Then the safeties, Rudy Ford is one, the list just goes on and on with our team. I can't really pick out one. 

"There's definitely a bunch of guys that are really good." 

You see Micah Parsons on the other side of the field when you get in that playoff win over the Cowboys. Deja vu?

Clifford: "It was funny when I walked out there. I have seen "11" in practice all the time at Penn State so it was funny looking over and seeing that guy again. We both were playing in the NFL on the big stage. It's surreal." 

What do you think you need to improve the most from year one to year two?

Clifford: "Just mastering the offense. You can always get better at throwing and take little steps there. At this point, how I throw is how I throw. There's not huge jumps and leaps and bounds I'm trying to make when it comes to throwing the football. 

"It's all about mental process now. Just being able to master the offense and making sure that I'm at my best every single day. Just have to push the (QB) room, push the offense, and push the team to be the best we can be."