#TeamPJ: The Saga Concludes

Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Heralded recruit Paul Jones will leave Penn State having never taken a snap at quarterback. His accomplishments off the field make him a true Penn State football player, though.

Zero yards.

When we look back at the Penn State record books, we'll find this next to Paul Jones' name. Jones netted zero yards in his Nittany Lion career, making one catch for seven yards in this year's game against Navy and given each of them back with a blown-up rush against Temple. He never took a snap at quarterback. He was never able to show off the dual-threat capabilities which brought him to Penn State.

He'll probably always be the best Penn State quarterback to never play quarterback in the eyes of most Penn State fans.

Looking back, it's hard to believe. Looking back, it won't really matter.

Jones reminds me a lot of Donovan McNabb. He has a thick body and can move, but he'd rather run through you than around you. His greatest asset is his arm strength. He can make a lot of throws that most high school players just don't make. He throws well on the run or in the pocket. - Bob Lichtenfels, Scout

Coming out of Sto-Rox High School, Jones was ranked the #3 quarterback in the nation from the Class of 2010. He enrolled into classes early which meant Penn State got to have an early look at the high school phenom during the 2010 Blue-White Game. The Penn State fascination with Paul Jones began that day.

During that rainy Saturday in April of 2010, Jones provided the only offense for the either team, going 5-of-8 for 67 yards and two touchdowns, both thrown to also now-former Nittany Lion Shawney Kersey. On that day, he looked better than presumed starter Kevin Newsome. He looked better than unknown walk-on Matt McGloin. No one could compare him and Rob Bolden considering Bolden had yet to step foot on campus.

But we all know the story. Jones' academics were in a bad place. It wasn't surprising considering he came from Sto-Rox, one of the poorest high schools in terms of education in the state. So he redshirted and watched as fellow true freshman Bolden won the job out of camp before relinquishing it to McGloin mid-season. 2011 rolled around, his grades were still down, Bolden wins another job, McGloin takes over mid-season, the cycle continued.

In 2012, with the help and encouragement of his past and present coaching staffs as well as his teammates, Jones had his education in order and was ready to compete for the job which most fans had given him since that rainy Saturday in 2010. But, by June 1st, Bill O'Brien made McGloin the starter and, after McGloin's stellar early season performance, Jones knew he wouldn't be the quarterback again. Tight end worked for a week, but now he has decided to move on.

Many people may ask: Is Paul Jones the biggest recruiting bust in Penn State history? Well, I would answer that, but even though the first 450 words here would tell you that this is a football story, it isn't.

This is a story about a kid doing things the right way. Paul Jones could have left Penn State two years ago when he knew that he would be redshirted because of his grades, even though he was probably the most talented quarterback on the team. He could have left a year later when he was benched for the same reason. He could have left after spring camp when Matt McGloin was named the starting quarterback. And he could leave right now if he really wanted to, but he's not gonna.

Paul might not have grown as a football player while he was at Penn State, or if he did, we were just not afforded the opportunity to see it. Paul did grow as a man, though. He's proven it by committing to put in the work for the rest of this semester even though he has no incentive of playing time waiting for him on the weekends now. A year ago, knowing his story, many would be surprised at this revelation. Now, at least for me, it comes as second nature.

Many might say he's taking the easy way out by transferring. But haven't we all needed a fresh take on life at least once to gain a new perspective or start anew, taking with us the good that we were instilled with somewhere else?

Growing as a man. Putting in the work on the academic side AS WELL AS the athletic side. Not giving up on your dream of being great in both realms.

Paul Jones won't be breaking any records at Penn State. With the eligibility he has left, he might not break records anywhere, but I'm sure he will be a fine quarterback wherever he ends up, even if it does happen at Pitt. But it doesn't matter. He's a completed work here.

While the regime may be gone, it's easy to see. Paul Jones is the Grand Experiment personified. He won't end up with a Penn State degree, but he will leave with tools to make him successful down the road. We, as a fanbase, should be proud as hell of him. Good luck, Paul and no matter where you go, you'll always have fans in Happy Valley.


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