Part two of a three part series reviewing the four potential candidates for the quarterback position.
Making the Case For….
At first glance, Matt McGloin is the outlier in the 2010 Quarterback competition. A former walk-on, McGloin is up against three former blue chip recruits in Kevin Newsome, Paul Jones, and Robert Bolden. He may not have the national recognition of some of his teammates, but McGloin has already earned a scholarship and is ready to compete for the job.
Penn State has a long history with walk-ons that made big impacts on the team. In recent years, Deon Butler and Josh Hull have gone from walk-ons, to scholarship athletes, to NFL draft picks (Butler was a 3rd Round Pick in 2009 and Hull was a 7th Rounder in 2010). Butler is perhaps one of the greatest wide receivers in Penn State history leaving the school as the all-time leader in receptions with 179. But what about the history with walk-on quarterbacks at Penn State?
When was the last time a walk-on QB ran the show in Happy Valley? In order to get the answer we went directly to the source for all things Penn State, Lou Prato. Lou couldn't recall a single walk-on who became the starter at QB since scholarships resumed in 1949. With as much history as Penn State has with walk-ons, walk-on QBs don't seem to have much of a history at all since 1949. If McGloin wins the job, his first start on September 4th against Youngstown State will be a history making one.
In terms of experience, Newsome looks like a seasoned vet compared to McGloin. Appearing in only two games during the 2009 season, McGloin failed to connect on either of his two pass attempts. WR Curtis Drake actually has more completions (One) and more TDs (One) then McGloin (Drake has the most TD passes on the team heading into the season).
What McGloin, or "Brett" as named by his teammates (referring to former Packers great and current retired/not retired Vikings QB Brett Favre) lacks in experience, he more than makes up for with confidence. He firmly believes in his skill set and that if given the opportunity, the team will follow his lead.
Some people don't think I have the speed or the arm strength, which I kind of disagree with," he said. "I can control the game and I think the team rallies around me as it is.
"They show me I can be a leader in and out of the huddle. I believe I can get the job done."
If winning the job was based on how you talk about winning the job, McGloin takes the cake.
If McGloin wins the job
"Evan Royster on the carry. A gain of 9 yards on the play." Expect to hear that, or some incarnation of that early and often during the season. Nothing against McGloin, Newsome, Jones, or Bolden...Penn State knows what they have with Evan Royster. Royster is only 481 yards away from breaking College Football Hall of Fame Running Back Curt Warner's career rushing record. If you have a horse, you need to feed it, and Penn State knows that much. McGloin's role as the QB will be to limit mistakes, trust the coaches, and when given the opportunity to make the big play, make it (think Todd Blackledge to former walk-on Gregg Garritty in the 1982 National Championship game against Georgia).
McGloin may actually be better equipped to lead the offense than Newsome simply for the simple fact that he does not have elite running skills to try and extend the play. McGloin is also seen as the better and more accurate passer(questions regarding Newsome's ability to read the defense, not lock on to his #1 WR, and throwing motion have been hot button issues during summer camp). McGloin is not Kerry Collins in terms of athletic ability, but he also won't remind people of Michael Robinson. He will need to take what the defense gives him and protect the ball. In the Spring Game, McGloin forced a lot of his passes hoping to make a play and ended up with an interception. He will need to stop doing his Brett Favre impersonation and starting doing his Matt McGloin...being himself will get him the job.
Another potential option is a QB by committee. We've seen it done in our program before with Rashard Casey and Kevin Thompson back in 1999. Florida is the gold standard of the QB by committee. They pulled off the feat and won a National Championship (Chris Leak and Tim Tebow). Both of the scenarios worked because each player had a different skill set (Pocket Passer Leak and battering ram Tebow). Can it really work in Happy Valley in 2010?
McGloin could very well be the Week 1 starter. If he wins the job expect some noise from the Penn State faithful. When Pat Devlin didn't win the job in 2008, fans (on Team Devlin) were very vocal about it (fans were excited to have a potential three year starter at QB). It was said Penn State would never land another 4 or 5 star recruit at QB. Fast forward two years and we have 3 big time QB recruits all with their eyes on the prize. What will be said if a former walk-on beats out the blue chip recruits? It will once again prove the only thing Rivals star system is good for is unique visitors.
If McGloin performs well and wins during the first four weeks (especially if he finds a way to win @ Alabama) of the season and continues to progress and develop, we will have to look at his teammates to see what happens next (back in 1980 Jeff Hostetler started three games before he was unseated by Todd Blackledge, that could potentially happen in his scenario with one of the three backups winning the job at some point before the game @ Iowa). There is a lingering feeling that his stay at the top will only be for a short few weeks.
Quarterback is a unique position. Only one kid can start and if that player is a Sophomore he will have three years to run the Spread HD. College football has become all about who can get me to the NFL faster and get me the guaranteed cash. Kids who have been told they are the best since they were 12 years old don't want to wait their turn, they want the job right out of high school, even if they aren't ready for it. It is JoePa's job to tell them otherwise. It's tough to think two Freshmen and a Sophomore are going to sit and wait their turn. They aren't going to wait around like Mike McQueary to start for one year for the love of Dear Ol' State. On September 4th we will see the first domino fall. We might have to wait until December to see the next one (or two).