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Penn State QB to transfer

| Thursday, May 10, 2001

With his personal life in turmoil and his football future at Penn State uncertain, quarterback Zac Wasserman this week decided to transfer to another school.

Wasserman, a redshirt freshman, received his release from coach Joe Paterno on Tuesday.

'It's because of family reasons, personal reasons,' Wasserman said by phone yesterday from his home in Tarzana, Calif. 'It has nothing to do with the program, and nothing to do with the offense.'

Last month, a few days before the Blue-White game, Wasserman's mother told him she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. His grandmother died last autumn, shortly after he arrived at Penn State.

'My mom's (illness) really has affected me a lot,' he said. 'When she first told me, it didn't really hit me. But then, the more I thought about it ... well, it's been tough.'

Wasserman missed about three weeks' worth of practice last season because of a shoulder sprain. This spring, he was battling Zach Mills, who also is a redshirt freshman, for the job backing up starter Matt Senneca.

If Paterno favored one of his young quarterbacks over the other, he never let on to reporters ... or even his players.

'When I talked to him (Tuesday), he told me it was a dead tie,' Wasserman said. 'He said if the season began tomorrow, he didn't know who would be the backup.'

By the end of spring practice, however, Mills obviously was out in front. In the Blue-White game, he completed 8 of 16 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown. Wasserman bobbled his first snap of the game, and went 3 for 16 for 43 yards.

A couple of days after spring drills ended, wide receivers coach Kenny Carter gave a hint of Wasserman's fate.

'We want all the quarterbacks to be on the same page as (the wideouts),' Carter said, 'because at any given time Matt Senneca could be out and we've got to be ready to work with Zach Mills.'

Michael Robinson, who will be a true freshman this fall, will take over the No. 3 spot behind Mills.

Paterno was not available for comment. In fact, officials in Penn State's sports information department declined even to confirm Wasserman's departure.

Wasserman, however, told his teammates about his decision before leaving campus. Yesterday, Wasserman and Jim Benkert, his former coach at Westlake (Calif.) High School, contacted about a dozen colleges.

Wasserman, who has family in Dallas, is considering Texas A&M, as well as several Pacific-10 schools.

Under NCAA rules, Wasserman must sit out a season before he can play for another Division I team. He will have three seasons of eligibility left.

'I guess you could say I'll be wasting a year,' he said. 'I'm going to go slow when deciding this time, because this is my last chance. I can't make another mistake.'

Wasserman paused, then laughed.

'But I know one thing: I'm not gonna go to another school that has another freshman or sophomore quarterback.'

At the end of the month, Wasserman will head to Connecticut to spend the summer with his ailing mother, Candace. After that, who knows•

'This was a tough decision for him, because he really likes Penn State and coach Paterno,' Candace Wasserman said. 'But he wants to play so badly. He has to go wherever someone will let him (play), and where the offense is right for him.'

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