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Penn State coach O'Brien will soon select starting QB

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By Scott Brown
By Scott Brown

Bill O'Brien will do everything he can to stabilize the quarterback position in his first season at Penn State.

The Nittany Lions coach told the Tribune-Review on Monday that he expects to name a starting quarterback before the end of the month.

And yes, we are talking about May.

O'Brien had previously said he would eliminate Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden or Paul Jones from the competition and pit the other two against one another in preseason practice. The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator apparently wants to fend off a quarterback controversy long before one starts.

That is why he will name a starter more than three months before Penn State's Sept. 1 season opener against Ohio University.

“You can't waste time, in my opinion, with a quarterback battle during training camp,” O'Brien said before speaking, along with three other coaches, to almost 400 Penn State alumni last night at the Omni William Penn Hotel. “We're not a wishy-washy place. We've got to make decisions and some people aren't going to be happy with the decisions, but that's our job. It's about the team, and we're doing what's best for the team.”

The Nittany Lions haven't had a No. 1 quarterback since Daryll Clark in 2009. McGloin, a fifth-year senior, and Bolden, a junior, shared time at quarterback the past two seasons but neither took control of the starting job.

That left an opening for Jones.

The 6-foot-3, 245-pound redshirt sophomore sat out the past two seasons because of academic issues, but he is the most tantalizing prospect of the three because of his size and lively right arm.

O'Brien settling on a starter so far in advance of his first season may offer a portal into his philosophy when it comes to quarterback, a position he has coached extensively. It could also be an indication that one quarterback clearly emerged in his eyes even though none of the three shined during the Blue-White game last month.

“I just think you have to have a starter and he's going to get most of them reps,” O'Brien said during a stop of the Penn State Coaches Caravan. “The guy I name the starter, he's got to do a great job every day to keep his job so that doesn't mean he can't get beat out, but I think that's important for our team to know who our starting quarterback is going into camp.”

Summer workouts at Penn State started earlier this week, and players will do more than lift before the start of preseason practice in August. Many are still learning the offense and defense that O'Brien, and his assistant coaches installed during spring practice.

“I can't do anything with them this summer, but I just want them to be as strong as (possible) and in the best condition of their lives when they come back,” said O'Brien, who met with every player on the team after the conclusion of spring practice. “And I want them to understand the terminology we taught them in the spring. If we don't have to re-teach, then I think we'll be in good shape in training camp.”

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at



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