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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Penn State QBs sound off on tight competition

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

 
 AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
 Daryll Clark (left) edged out Pat Devlin (right) in Penn State's QB competition and will be the starter against Coastal Carolina.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Penn State quarterbacks Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin had some very interesting comments this morning regarding their competition, which ended with Clark being named the starter for Saturday's opener against Coastal Carolina. 

Let's begin with Devlin, who tried to say the right things but couldn't mask his obvious disappointment. Here's a guy who broke Pennsylvania career high school passing record and reneged on a verbal commitment to Miami to play for Penn State. Devlin didn't come to State College to sit on the bench, and though coach Joe Paterno reiterated that both Clark and Devlin are likely to play this season, there is now a clear designation between the two.

Devlin admitted he had a slow start to Tuesday's practice and said Monday's decision likely played a role.

"I don't know what the feeling is," Devlin said. "It's mostly disappointment. You work so hard for something and you feel pretty good about it and the next day they tell you you're not going to start." 

Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno told Devlin that accuracy played a part in the decision to start Clark, as well as experience. Clark has appeared in 15 games the last two seasons as Anthony Morelli's backup.

Devlin played in three games as a redshirt freshman last fall, attempting one pass.  

"I really don't know how much experience Daryll really has," Devlin said. "I'm not sure how many passes he's had in a game or anything like that. But that was the thing that Joe told us in the meeting, that Daryll probably played a little bit better. Jay said he was a little more accurate and that he had a little more experience. That's understandable." 

Clark is listed as a senior but should earn a fifth year of eligibility, putting him just a year ahead of Devlin. Clark said that he needs to complete 80 percent of his credits to earn a fifth year, and he's already at 88 percent, so "I'm going to have it for sure and I'm going to take it."

When a reporter asked Devlin if transferring is now an option, the quarterback paused eight seconds before answering. 

"I don't think so," he said. "Right now, I've kind of been consumed with this, fighting for the job, so as of now, I'm just going to continue working hard."

Clark expressed his excitement about winning the job but reiterated how close the competition turned out. The two quarterbacks split snaps almost equally with the first-team offense throughout the preseason. 

"It was too close to call working on the inside, actually being out there and playing," Clark said. "When I did something good, he did something good. ... I really don't know the separation. I just tried to make plays.

"Since the competition was so tight, it's only right to play us both and see how it pans out."

Clark is taking the approach that he's the starter solely for the Coastal Carolina game, but he was pleased to hear Joe Paterno say he doesn't have to look over his shoulder. Devlin and Clark have yet to discuss the decision but Clark expects to do so Friday night when the two quarterbacks room together in the team hotel.

Clark hopes to maintain a strong friendship with Devlin, but after going through similar disappointment last summer, he can empathize with the sophomore.

"I really don't know how he's going to react to this," Clark said. "I'll probably know how it is in the hotel room Friday. You put so much effort into winning the job. I completely understand that. I've been there. I'm anxious to see how he'll be once we room together. I hope it doesn't turn out to be him being so disappointed that he doesn't want to be cool with me."

Clark also weighed in on potential cliques forming in the locker room.

"I hope it doesn't get like that," Clark said. "Let's be honest. There are people on the team that want him in, there are people on the team that want me in. Who? I don't know. But I hope nothing bad comes out of this." 

Clark's confidence, common sense and candor should serve him well as the starter. Devlin's disappointment Wednesday morning was completely understandable, but Clark always seemed to project as the better leader. 

The 6-foot-2, 231-pound senior was a Prop 48 nonqualifier who went to prep school to get his academics in order. Then he waited two years behind Morelli.

Now it's his time.

"This is a long time coming," Clark said. "I've been very patient, very quiet about everything and just kept a level head. I felt I worked hard enough, put in enough time to be a Penn State quarterback. A lot of things are running through my mind right now. I'm playing the game over and over in my head each and every day. I would be lying if I told you I wasn't nervous about Saturday. On the way over to the stadium, I'll probably be a little overwhelmed. I'll probably be real excited. This is a dream come true. You want to be the guy at quarterback, you want to be the guy that leads the team."