Part one of a three part series reviewing the four potential candidates for the quarterback position.
Making the Case For….
Since Joe Paterno has been running the show, selecting the starting QB has typically been the same…longest tenured QB gets the reins. Just look at recent QB battles:
- Daryll Clark (Redshirt Junior) won the job against Pat Devlin (Redshirt Sophomore) in 2008.
- Anthony Morelli (Junior) "won" (and I use that term VERY loosely) against Daryll Clark (Redshirt Freshman) in 2006.
- Michael Robinson (Redshirt Senior) got the nod over then uber recruit Morelli (True Freshman) in 2005.
- Zack Mills, during the Dark Years of 2001-2004, at one point was stuck behind teenage hearthrob Matt Seneca (that was 2001 before Seneca quit the team the following year to focus on academics).
In 2010, 11 pass attempts and 121 rushing yards (5th most on the team last year) is all the experience we are going to get. What he lacks in game experience, Newsome more than makes up for it with physical tools. Last season we got to see glimpses of what Newsome brings to the table: game changing athletic skills and speed. We haven’t had a QB with the size/speed combo since Michael Robinson (side note: media and fans were always labeling Daryll Clark a dual threat QB. While DC had SOME speed, he was more of a pocket passer - think a more muscular Paul Jones. Michael Robinson was the last true DUAL THREAT.) Kevin Newsome will be more MikeRob and less DC. If I told you Newsome would complete 53% of his passes have 17 TDs to 10 INTS, rush for 800 yards and have 11 more TDs (MikeRob’s numbers from 2005), would you take it?
If Newsome wins the job
Expect the run/pass ratio to tilt to the left. The good thing about 2010 is that Penn State has a stable of outstanding RBs led by 1st team All Big Ten rusher, Evan Royster. Newsome can learn how to play QB, develop as a passer, and use his unique set of skills to move the chains. If Newsome plays like John Shaffer, "manages the game", and doesn’t turn the ball over, he will be just fine (and the National Championship would be nice).
With Newsome at QB, we could easily have two 1,000 yard rushers. The Spread HD will become the Spread HD-R, until Newsome develops the necessary passing skills to balance out the attack. Back in 1999, when Michael Vick was making headlines for his on the field play as a Redshirt Freshman at Virginia Tech the offense was simple…one downfield read, if he is covered…run. Until he gets comfortable in the pocket, I see Kevin Newsome following this same formula (people tend to forget that Vick led the NCAA in Passing Efficiency as a freshman that year with 180.4).
Penn State is very fortunate that the cupboard is stacked with Blue Chip QB prospects…and Matt McGloin. During the 2008 Clark/Devlin QB battle, the point was made many times: if Pat Devlin doesn’t win the job he is going to transfer. Devlin, the record setting Pennsylvania prep QB and 4 star recruit was a big get for JoePa and company. After a Redshirt season, he patiently waited behind another former Blue Chip recruit, QB14. 2008 was going to be the year that fan favorite Pat Devlin won the starting job and becoming a three year starter for Penn State. A funny thing happened on the way to him winning the starting job: Daryll Clark won the job.
From all accounts, DC and Devlin were neck and neck during the Spring and Summer, DC got the job due to experience. Devlin said all the right things; he even relieved the injured Clark during the Ohio State game to lead us to victory. During Rose Bowl preparations, Devlin decided to transfer to Delaware (some feel it was because he wasn’t given the opportunity to replace a struggling Clark during the Iowa game…even Derrick Williams got to throw a pass in that game). Devlin’s departure cleared the way for Newsome to decommit from Michigan and join Penn State in the winter of 2009. It also left Penn State painfully thin at QB, which led to the commitments of Paul Jones and Robert Bolden in 2010.
No one wants to hear the dreaded "T" word, but if Newsome does win, someone is going to look for greener pastures (or a position change), we just don’t know the pecking order yet.