Big Ten: Tahj Boyd

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Tuesday night was a busy one for the Penn State football program. 

Just minutes after the university announced coach Joe Paterno's three-year contract extension, heralded prep quarterback Kevin Newsome said he was coming to Penn State. Paterno's new deal undoubtedly will get most of the attention today, but Newsome's decision could also play a major role in the team's future. 

Penn State desperately needed to add a quarterback for the 2009 class after sophomore Pat Devlin announced last week that he would transfer from the school. All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark returns next fall, but the Lions have no capable backup. Newsome, who originally committed to Michigan, will step into the reserve role and possibly become the starter in 2010.

The opportunity to play almost immediately sold Newsome, who plans to enroll early at Penn State. 

"What helped with Penn State a lot was I would get a little more playing time a little bit earlier," Newsome said. "Every quarterback wants to come in and be able to challenge someone for the spot, so I want to learn from Daryll Clark for a year, and by the time I'm a sophomore be ready to take control of the Penn State offense."

There's a bit of concern about Newsome's ability to play quarterback at the college level, and ESPN recruiting guru Tom Luginbill felt Tahj Boyd might have been a better fit in Happy Valley. Newsome certainly brings athleticism to the backfield, and his commitment likely means Penn State will stick with the Spread HD offense for the foreseeable future. 

Big Ten Friday mailbag

December, 12, 2008
12/12/08
3:41
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Let's see what's on your mind.

Andy from Greensboro writes: In regards to the awards ceremony last night on ESPN, I think the Big 10 got snubbed in the Bednarik. Yes Rey Maualuga missed a couple games this year, but his stats in the games he played were nothing special. He played against weaker teams in the Pac-10 than the Big 10 and I dont think he should have won. James and Aaron had much better stats (not only because they played a full season) against tougher offenses. Glad to see Malcolm win the Thorpe however.

Adam Rittenberg: I would have liked to have seen Aaron Maybin win the Bednarik Award, but Maualuga is a heck of a player who makes that defense go. Laurinaitis might have better numbers, but 75 of his 121 tackles were assists, so the stats a bit inflated. As I wrote earlier, Maybin was probably hurt a bit by only being a sophomore. He'll get his due in the years to come. Malcolm Jenkins is an excellent player and deserving of any national awards he receives, though I thought Eric Berry from Tennessee would win the Thorpe.


Jason from Reading, Va., writes: Adam- I have to take exception with your comment that Fitzgerald and Spurrier are the only active FBS coaches in the CFB Hall of Fame- What about one Joseph Vincent Paterno? ...and although the whole 'active' thing may be debatable here, what about Bobby Bowden?

Adam Rittenberg: Jason, you have to read a little more carefully. I wrote that Pat Fitzgerald and Steve Spurrier are the only active FBS coaches to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as players. Joe Paterno's playing career at Brown didn't him a Hall of Fame nod. Same goes for Bowden at Samford.


Andy from Evanston, Ill., writes: Hey Adam, great job all year. I've really enjoyed reading all your posts! Do you have any preliminary thoughts on the quarterback situation at Northwestern next year with [C.J.] Bacher graduating? Do you think Kafka will get the nod, or will they give it to someone like Evan Watkins to start getting some experience?

Adam Rittenberg: Mike Kafka will go into 2009 as the overwhelming favorite to win the starting job. In some ways, the injuries Northwestern had this year became a blessing in disguise. Kafka's performance at Minnesota helped save a promising season, and he can go into spring ball knowing it's his job to lose. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has always liked Kafka, naming him the opening-day starter back in 2006, and he would have to see something major from Watkins or Dan Persa to change his mind. My sense is Watkins will be the team's quarterback of the future, beginning in 2010.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The transfer of a backup quarterback usually doesn't set off alarm bells, but Penn State has to be a bit concerned about its quarterback situation after Pat Devlin cleaned out his locker Wednesday.

 
 Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
 Pat Devlin (7) played a key role in Penn State's win over Ohio State earlier this season.

Devlin and his parents reportedly met with head coach Joe Paterno on Monday to discuss his status.

"By the end of the meeting, Pat Devlin had informed Paterno that he was leaving, the source said. With one game to play, however, Devlin's decision over whether he would play in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Southern Cal was left dangling.

[Wednesday], according to another source close to the team, Paterno asked Devlin if he had reached a verdict. The sophomore said he had not. Paterno made the decision for him, and by the end of the day, Devlin's locker was cleaned out."

All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark was granted a fifth year of eligibility before the season and will return in 2009, but Penn State has no one behind him. Third-stringer Paul Cianciolo is a senior who will back up Clark in the Rose Bowl, his final collegiate game.

Recruiting now becomes paramount for Penn State, and it's an area that still creates anxiety in Happy Valley despite the program's renaissance this fall. The Lions' mediocre 2009 class currently features only one quarterback, Curtis Drake from Philadelphia.

Penn State undoubtedly will try to add another signal caller.

Tahj Boyd backed out of his commitment to Tennessee after meeting with new coach Lane Kiffin and would be an excellent late pickup for the Lions. Former Michigan commit Kevin Newsome also is a possibility. Newsome has Penn State among his top group of schools, and the chance to back up Clark next fall and start in 2010 could push him toward Happy Valley.

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