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Thursday, August 12, 2010
Penn State QBs play the waiting game

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The repetitions are evenly divided, and all four candidates are seeing some practice time with the first-team offense.

A week into camp, Penn State's quarterback competition is still wide open. But it can't stay that way too much longer.

Sophomores Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin have a slight edge in experience, but true freshmen Paul Jones and Robert Bolden have "opened some eyes," safety Nick Sukay said.

"Whoever reaches out and grabs it is going to get this job," the 6-1, 209-pound McGloin told me Thursday afternoon. "It's crucial to make the most out of your reps. If you don't, you're going to fall back and put yourself out of this race."

How does McGloin rate his performance?

"I think I've done a great jobs with the reps I've gotten so far," he said. "Going through my progressions, taking my time and not trying to force too many things to the wideouts. That's something the coaches are really happy about."

Newsome called it "a nice, tough camp" and a "big-time learning experience." He declined to rate his own performance to this point, leaving those duties to quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno and others, but is working to emulate his close friend and mentor Daryll Clark, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season.

Head coach Joe Paterno didn't shed much light on the quarterback race Thursday, saying the staff is still evaluating a very inexperienced group. Although the 6-2, 225-pound Newsome backed up Clark in 2009 and appeared in 10 games, Paterno still considers him a freshman.

"Any quarterback wants to play right away," said Newsome, who speaks and sounds remarkably like Clark on the phone. "We all are anxious, we all are working hard to be the best quarterbacks we can be. Coach Joe is going to make sure of that."

I asked both McGloin and Newsome to identify the one aspect of their game that could set them apart from the other candidates.

McGloin: "My leadership. It has grown as a quarterback. I'm trying to be very vocal and very confident toward the other players, and encouraging as well. My confidence is something that rubs off on the other players. In the huddle, I'm able to see that they feel exactly as calm and confident as I do, and we're able to just relax and play the game and play to our fullest potential."

Newsome: "I don't know. One thing I do know is I want to win. I want to be the best player and put this team in the best position to win games. Just like Robert and Matt and Paul, they're doing the same things. At the end of the day, the starting quarterback job is in coach Joe's hands, and whoever he wants to make that guy, he will."

Clark ran the Spread HD system extremely well for two years, but his departure and virtually no experience behind him has many thinking Penn State will run an ultra-conservative system this fall.

Don't be so sure.

"You really can't replace a guy like Daryll, he's a great leader for us," McGloin said, "but to be honest, I don't really see the offense changing too much. Evan Royster's going to be Evan Royster, and I think our strong point this year is going to be our wideouts. We have great depth at wideout, and I don't think anybody in the Big Ten is going to match it."

McGloin said Jay Paterno mentioned the possibility of reducing the candidate pool to three by the weekend, but a final decision on a starter isn't imminent.

"The best man's going to win," Newsome said.