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Raiders' McGloin: PSU prepared me for NFL

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 10:33 p.m.
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Raiders quarterback Matthew McGloin, a Penn State product, passes against the Seahawks during a preseason game Aug. 29, 2013.

Matt McGloin crossed paths with his successor as Penn State's starting quarterback just once. He came away impressed, as most have, with Christian Hackenberg.

“It's Penn State,” McGloin said. “We bring in good people … and you can tell he's a great kid.”

One who, McGloin believes, has positioned himself to benefit from tutoring via Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien and Nittany Lions quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher.

“He's obviously a talented guy,” McGloin, now with the Oakland Raiders, said of Hackenberg. “And I've heard he's very coachable. All he has to do is take advantage of having the opportunity to learn from Coach Fisher and Coach O'Brien, and he'll have a great future.”

McGloin would know.

“If it wasn't for those guys,” McGloin said by phone from northern California this week, “I wouldn't be on a 53-man roster in the NFL.”

With Raiders starter Terrelle Pryor's status for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins in doubt because of a concussion, chances are good McGloin will serve as the top backup.

McGloin walked on at Penn State the same year Jeannette's Pryor spurned the Lions for Ohio State as the top recruit in the country in 2008. McGloin had made 10 starts with mixed results in 2010 and '11 before O'Brien was hired.

McGloin welcomed O'Brien, formerly the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator, with open arms. The coach embraced McGloin back. Together they flourished: McGloin led the Big Ten in passing yardage and broke nine school records.

“(O'Brien and Fisher) taught me how to play the game,” McGloin said. “I was raw. I didn't know the correct way to play quarterback. You can have all the ability in the world, but if you have no direction and nobody to teach you how to read coverages or fronts of what defenses' tendencies are and things like that, you're basically going out there just throwing the ball around.

“Coach O'Brien and coach Fisher were perfect for me.”

McGloin fended off blue-chip recruits Rob Bolden, Kevin Newsome and Paul Jones at Penn State and ultimately won the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation's most outstanding former walk-on.

He overcame similar odds in making the Raiders' active roster after being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent. There were reports that some within the organization preferred McGloin as the season-opening starting quarterback over Pryor and $26 million man Matt Flynn.

“It's exciting, and I'm happy where I'm at, and I'm learning a lot from the guys around me and the coaching staff,” McGloin said. “I'm just waiting on my opportunity, and when my opportunity does come I know I'll be ready.”

That could come as soon as Sunday, when an injury to Flynn potentially would be the only thing standing in the way of McGloin's regular-season NFL debut.

The Scranton native's fiery demeanor and follow-me leadership persona were just what Penn State needed during arguably the most unsettling and uncertain period of the university's history in 2012 with the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal still raw.

McGloin regularly hears from Penn State fans via social networking or on the street thanking him and a 2012 senior class that eschewed an opportunity to freely transfer and instead earned a space in the Beaver Stadium ring of honor.

“I've been all over the last 8 to 10 months, and every time I've been somewhere I've run into Penn State fans, and the first thing they bring up is how proud of the 2012 senior class they are,” McGloin said. “There's really no other university like Penn State, and it was a true honor to be a part of that senior class.”

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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