NCF Nation: Paul Cianciolo

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.

 
 Rob Tringali/Getty Images
 Daryll Clark has seven TD passes and only one interception this season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Shortly after being named Penn State's starting quarterback, Daryll Clark used some word play with the title of the team's new offense -- the Spread HD -- to illustrate whether the unit would sink or swim this fall.

"Hopefully HD will stand for hi-def, highly diverse," Clark said. "And hopefully it doesn't turn out to be a huge dud."

Four games into the season, the former looks like the correct interpretation. Few teams in the country have been as multifaceted on offense as No. 12 Penn State, which ranks among the top eight nationally in scoring (52.8 ppg), rushing (274.3 ypg) and total yards (538.5 ypg).

The Nittany Lions have four regular ball-carriers, including Clark, who average at least 5.9 yards per carry. Leading rusher Evan Royster averages a blistering 8.1 yards per carry, and speedy backup Stephfon Green isn't far behind (7.3 ypg). The team's three senior wide receivers -- Jordan Norwood, Deon Butler and Derrick Williams -- all average at least 14 yards per reception.

Penn State has had six different players rush for a touchdown and the same number catch a scoring strike from Clark, backup Pat Devlin and third-stringer Paul Cianciolo.

That qualifies as diverse.

Comparing the current system to its predecessor, it's as if the Lions traded in their black-and-white TV for one with hi-def capabilities.

"Being able to use all the weapons we have has really helped," Royster said. "I don't think [the switch] needed to happen. I just think it fits our personnel. We could have success with a pocket quarterback that can throw the ball. It's really all about the people you have and what you have to work with."

Running a system that uses all of its available resources has built greater confidence across the board.

"Everybody's trusting each other a lot more than they did last year," center A.Q. Shipley said.

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