Quarterbacks: They're important. This is the second in a short series in which we will try to decipher which quarterback will give the team the best chance to win.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Allow Us to Introduce: Pat Devlin
Eligibility Remaining: Three years. No redshirt available.
Metrics: 6'4", 222 lbs, 4.7-4.8 40-yard dash.
"Services Say...": Devlin was the #4 QB in the nation according to Scout, good for a four-star rating. Rivals named him the #5 QB, and also a four-star. His numerous high school accolades include being the Pennsylvania AAAA player of the year, Gatorade Pennsylvania POY, first-team all-state, and attending both the Big 33 game and Elite 11 quarterback camp. Besides that, didn't accomplish much prior to enrolling at Penn State.
Ability To Run: It's a lazy mistake made by a number of otherwise good football writers, but Devlin and Daryll Clark are practically equals in the forty-yard dash. Despite his obvious status as The White Quarterback, Devlin is deceptively nimble. He may not be as productive as Daryll Clark as a runner from a YPC standpoint, but Devlin isn't even remotely reminiscent of Drew Bledsoe back there.
Ability to Pass: At the highest level of Pennsylvania high school football, Devlin threw for 3,300 yards and 35 touchdowns his senior year, and holds the career high school record for passing yards -- 8,162. But on the college level? Nobody can tell. He's thrown one pass in a live college game, an incompletion against Florida International. However, Devlin showed amazing touch and vision during the Blue/White game, especially on two particular throws. First, a beautifully placed ball to tight end Andrew Szczerba down the left seam between the linebackers and safeties -- a throw Anthony Morelli couldn't dream of making. Second, on a fly pattern to James McDonald which Penn State fans would still be buzzing about if McDonald had simply caught the ball. The football arrived just over McDonald's shoulder, eight yards deep in the end zone, and inexplicably clanked to the ground.
Intangibles: Jeff McLane, Philly Inquirer. Take it away.
"With Pat, it's all about the immeasurables," said Mike Matta, Devlin's high school coach. "And when he gets in the huddle and commands, you can't measure that. He becomes a different kid. It's not that he motivates by yelling, he motivates by setting an example."
The figure of college quarterback as big man on campus is not one that befits Devlin. Despite his 6-foot-4, 222-pound frame, Devlin says he goes largely unnoticed around State College, as "just the skinny, white dude flying under the radar."
"I just go to class," he added, not mentioning his 3.74 grade point average. "I come to practice, work out, go to my bedroom, do my homework and then go to bed."
What does that mean? Ehh, who knows. High school intangibles aren't college intangibles. Practice intangibles aren't "4th quarter against Ohio State" intangibles. We don't know much about Clark or Devlin until we see it on the field. During a real game.
In Conclusion: The reality is that while Devlin and Clark are sloppily labeled as the throwing and running quarterbacks, respectively, they're more similar than people think. The question, then, comes down to, "What does this offense need most to succeed?" We already know the Penn State offensive line is going to create problems for defensive coordinators, who quickly tire of their defensive fronts giving up 6+ yards per carry. When the defense brings that extra defender toward the line of scrimmage, which quarterback do you want behind center in order to exploit the thinned-out secondary? Who do you trust more to make the big play through the air? No offense to fans of Daryll Clark, but if I have to pick one guy, give me the quarterback who ran a pass-happy spread offense in high school and doesn't need to be coached up quite as much -- Pat Devlin.