Listed generously at 6 feet on the roster, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has talent that often exceeds his size — the exciting mobility, the flourishing accuracy, the elite touch on deep throws downfield.

Above it all, there’s something about McSorely that’s remarkable to coaches and teammates — a knack for winning.

You can count on two hands the number of losses he has suffered as a starter dating to his freshman year at Briar Woods High School in northern Virginia. McSorley, the heart and soul of the No. 2-ranked Nittany Lions, has lost only eight times as a starter since then.

“What separates (McSorley) is, his competitive spirit is off the chart,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s not the biggest guy, but he competes so damn hard.”

No one doubts McSorley’s legitimacy now. But it wasn’t long ago that many were.

247Sports rated McSorley as a three-star recruit, No. 514 overall player in the nation and the No. 14 dual-threat quarterback. Scout also rated him as a three-star recruit and as the No. 37 overall quarterback in the 2014 class. ESPN and Rivals didn’t even rate him as a quarterback — they tabbed him as an “athlete,” a catchall distinction for a player whose position in college is ambiguous.

Even McSorley’s father, Rick McSorley, who played defensive back at Richmond, told the Philadelphia Inquirer before last year’s Rose Bowl that he thought at the time his son would be a great defensive back.

But Penn State passing game coordinator Ricky Rahne, who was on coach James Franklin’s staff at Vanderbilt, was convinced McSorley’s future was under center, and that ultimately secured McSorley’s initial commitment to the Commodores. When Franklin was named the coach at Penn State and Rahne followed, McSorley did the same. And that was a no-brainer for Franklin.

“He just had too many things when you list out all the things you’re looking for at the quarterback position besides being 6-3, he kind of has them all,” Franklin said.

McSorley can keep a defense honest in multiple ways. He’s a threat to take off running downfield at any time, with 254 yards and seven rushing touchdowns this season, and that showed last week in a 42-13 win over Michigan on a play in where he didn’t even touch the ball.

Running back Saquon Barkley lined up directly behind center with McSorley to his left, handled the snap and faked to his quarterback on a zone read before keeping it himself. Both of Michigan’s inside linebackers flowed left toward McSorley and couldn’t recover in time as Barkley took off on a 69-yard touchdown run.

McSorley’s efficacy with throwing deep helps keep defenses from keying completely on Barkley. He showed that last year with 9.34 yards per attempt, the eighth highest in the country. Defenses are more equipped for his strong arm this season, with McSorley’s yards per attempt dropping to 8.54, but he has adjusted just fine, with his completion percentage rising from 57.9 percent to 66.8 percent, the highest in the Big Ten.

McSorley is a much evolved player since Ohio State saw him last, in which the then-redshirt sophomore completed only 8 of 23 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown in Penn State’s 24-21 win last season.

There’s one thing that’s predictably stayed the same with McSorley, though: the competitive spirit.

"I'm fortunate to not have that many (losses)," McSorley told USA Today Sports this season. "Those feed you a little bit more than the wins do."