Big Ten: Joe Flacco

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

As a highly touted quarterback coming out of high school, Jake Christensen never thought he'd be attempting to salvage his football career at Eastern Illinois.

 
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  QB Jake Christensen has focused on refining his mechanics since transferring to Eastern Illinois.

But after some trying times in Iowa City that led to his transfer from the Hawkeyes in January, Christensen knows there's no place he'd rather be.

"Even if I was the starter there, I can't say that I'd want to be there as opposed to here," Christensen recently told ESPN.com. "I love the coaches here, I love the guys and I'm happy."

Christensen, who started 13 consecutive games at Iowa in 2007 and 2008 before losing his job to Ricky Stanzi, is enrolled at Eastern Illinois as a graduate student and has been practicing with the team. The school is still waiting on the NCAA to clear Christensen for competition.

EIU team spokesman Rich Moser said the school's compliance office has been checking daily on Christensen's waiver with the NCAA, but there's no timetable for when an answer will come through.

If and when Christensen gets the go-ahead, he's confident he'll be a different player than the one fans saw at Iowa. In 2007, he passed for 2,269 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions but completed just 53.5 percent of his throws and drew criticism for taking too many sacks.

Last fall Christensen split snaps with Stanzi before losing the top job following a 21-20 loss at Pitt.

"I feel I'm back, mechanically wise, to where I was when I left high school," he said. "That's a good place for me. For whatever reason, I got a little bulky at Iowa, a little stronger than I should have been, and my mechanics got a little out of whack. I got more like a linebacker than a quarterback and it kind of obstructed my throwing motion a little bit and threw things off.

"But it's not an excuse. It was just something I realized this summer with not lifting weights so hard that my motion was a little more fluid."

Christensen said Iowa never asked him to gain weight but it "just kind of happened." He made his mechanics a bigger focal point after leaving the program, and spent the summer working with his father, Jeff, a former NFL quarterback, as well as former NFL signal-caller Steve DeBerg.

"The coaches [at Iowa] focused more on the X's and O's than mechanics," Christensen said. "I don't think [offensive coordinator Ken] O'Keefe had much to do with mechanics. If you watch me now compared to last year, it'd be completely different throwing the ball, in a good way."

Though the transfer process as a graduate student is tricky, Christensen explored several options at both the FBS and FCS levels. He talked extensively with Colorado State and also considered Utah and Miami (Ohio).

But Eastern Illinois soon emerged as the front-runner. Jeff Christensen played at the school, and Jake had been recruited by EIU offensive coordinator Roy Wittke when Wittke served as Arkansas' offensive coordinator. The Tony Romo factor also helped (Romo starred at Eastern Illinois).

"With the whole Romo deal, he opened the doorway for smaller schools," Christensen said. "Now you've got guys like [former Delaware star Joe Flacco] in the NFL playing, not just making it but starting and playing well. I think it's a good place to me if you want to try and go further with your career."

Christensen doesn't downplay the difficulties he had at Iowa, but he's looking ahead.

"As far as having a fair shot, in my heart I can't really say that I believe that," he said. "But that being said, I don't have any negative energy toward them. They did what they did and it worked out for them. They are where they want to be.

"At the end of the day, I'm glad I went through it."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Of all the quarterbacks to depart Big Ten programs during the winter and spring, Pat Devlin might have left the biggest void.

Devlin provided Penn State with a dependable backup for Daryll Clark. He nearly won the starting job last summer and came up big late against Ohio State. Without Devlin, the Lions are very inexperienced under center and need Clark to stay healthy this fall.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane recently caught up with Devlin, who went through practice at Delaware this spring and hopes to follow Joe Flacco's path from FBS also-ran to FCS star. He didn't have too much to say about Penn State, other than that he wanted more than one year as the starter.

The turning point seemed to be Penn State's loss to Iowa. Clark struggled coming off a concussion, but the coaches never replaced him with Devlin.

"He genuinely thought he had earned playing time," said Dan Ellis, a former quarterback at Virginia. "And by their own estimation it was close. ... So if you have such a capable backup quarterback that just barely lost the starting quarterback competition, and Daryll Clark can't throw the ball very well against Iowa, why isn't he playing?"

Devlin also discusses his departure from Penn State in December. After being granted his release, Devlin still thought he would travel with the team for the Rose Bowl. But head coach Joe Paterno decided Devlin would be a distraction in Pasadena.

Twenty minutes after the conversation, Devlin went to the Lasch Building to work out and ran into equipment manager Spider Caldwell.

"He said, 'Joe just called me and told me to clean out your locker,'" Devlin recalled. "So I grabbed a trash bag and threw everything in my locker and left. That's kind of how it ended."

Devlin reportedly headed to Delaware

December, 23, 2008
12/23/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Former Penn State quarterback Pat Devlin reportedly has found a home, and it's where many thought he would end up. 

Devlin is expected to enroll at Delaware after deciding to transfer from Penn State two weeks ago. He backed up Daryll Clark this season after losing a quarterback competition in preseason camp. The sophomore appeared in 10 games and passing for 459 yards and four touchdowns. Since Delaware is an FCS team, Devlin will not have to sit out a season as a transfer. 

Devlin undoubtedly hopes to follow the path of Joe Flacco, who transferred to Delaware after being slotted behind Tyler Palko at Pitt. Things worked out pretty well for Flacco, who now holds a starting job with the Baltimore Ravens.  

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