McGloin steps up for Penn State

Jerry DiPaola
| Monday, Oct. 25, 2010

A sophomore quarterback named Matt McGloin showed up at football practice at West Scranton High School in 2005, and coach Mike DeAntona wondered what to do.

He had talented upperclassmen ready to lead the team, but McGloin would have none of it.

"He gave me no choice but to start him in the first game of his sophomore season," DeAntona said.

McGloin hopes Penn State coach Joe Paterno comes to the same conclusion.

The Nittany Lions may make a major change at quarterback leading into the Michigan game Saturday night at Beaver Stadium, and McGloin is at the center of it.

Freshman Rob Bolden suffered a head injury Saturday in the victory at Minnesota, and McGloin was the first replacement Paterno called off the bench. He ended up passing for two touchdowns as the Nittany Lions prevailed, 33-21.

Back in Scranton, DeAntona wasn't surprised.

"Matt hates to lose," said DeAntona, who resigned a year after McGloin graduated. "He will do anything he has to do to make himself or his team better. He showed it to me for three years. He has that inner self-motivation, self-confidence. We, as coaches, would love to teach it, but he has it."

DeAntona called the plays at West Scranton, but he gave McGloin freedom to change them at the line of scrimmage.

"He could change a run to a pass and a pass to a run," the coach said. "And he did it almost perfect 95 percent of the time."

A three-year starter and all-state performer, McGloin threw for 5,485 yards and 58 touchdowns, leading West Scranton to the PIAA Class AAA semifinals as a senior in 2007. He had scholarship offers from Lehigh and Lafayette, but he had higher ambitions.

"I wanted to play on the big stage," McGloin said.

DeAntona said several major schools asked about McGloin — including Notre Dame, Pitt and Penn State — but none offered scholarships. DeAntona believed McGloin's size (6-foot-1 and 209 pounds) worked against him.

"If Matt McGloin had been another inch taller, he would have been one of the top recruits in the nation," he said.

Ultimately, McGloin accepted Penn State's offer to become a preferred walk-on. He made the team as a freshman and earned a scholarship as a sophomore. With Paterno referring to him as "the kid from the coal region," McGloin was on the cusp of the starting job this summer until he was outplayed by Bolden, a freshman, and Kevin Newsome, a sophomore.

McGloin has an exceptionally strong arm — he said he can throw the football nearly 50 yards from his knees — but he isn't as polished as Bolden or as athletic as Newsome.

"A lot of people didn't really believe in me (coming out of high school), but I believed in myself," McGloin said. "The players believe in me, and the coaches believe in me. The most important thing is my family. They said, 'You'll be all right. You'll be all right.' "

Even with limited practice snaps, McGloin said he was ready when Paterno called his name Saturday.

"Your instincts take over, and you just play the game and remember how fun it is to play," he said. "You dream about this since you were playing in the backyard with your brothers."

The dream could end this week if Bolden is given medical clearance to face Michigan. He was examined by doctors Sunday, but a school spokesman said Paterno would have no update until today at the earliest.

"I think Rob will be fine," McGloin said. "It's Rob's team."

Even if Minnesota is his only shining moment, McGloin said he will be satisfied.

"I'll never leave here, (even) if this is the only time I will ever play," he said. "I helped Penn State get a win. That's what it's all about."

Additional Information:

Matt McGloin file

? Height: 6-foot-1

? Weight: 209 pounds

? Class: Redshirt sophomore

? High school: West Scranton

? Notable: In high school, McGloin was an all-state quarterback and all-conference in basketball and baseball.

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