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This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Monday, Dec. 26. Let’s get started.
Matt McGloin is a survivor
Matt McGloin, a study in persistence, began his career at Penn State as a walk-on. By the end, he was not only the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback, he was setting records.
McGloin began his NFL career as an undrafted rookie free agent. He continues it now as the starter for the Oakland Raiders, who saw Derek Carr lost for the season with a broken leg in Saturday’s victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
McGloin started six games as a rookie in 2013 (a stretch in which the team went 1-5), but before Saturday had thrown 51 passes while appearing three times over the previous two seasons.
If that sounds ominous, understand that McGloin has made a habit of surpassing expectations. He has outlasted a slew of other QBs in four seasons with Oakland (Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn, Matt Schaub, et al.), just as he outlasted guys like Rob Bolden and Kevin Newsome at PSU.
As McGloin told Mike Poorman of Statecollege.com on Sunday:
“I’ve always tried to be optimistic, to believe that my time will come. I just try to be ready for the situation. I believe I’m ready to go, and can help our offense accomplish the goals we set at the beginning of the season.”
He entered Saturday’s game after Carr, who is on the short list of MVP candidates this year, was lost early in the fourth quarter. McGloin attempted just three passes, but completed two, including a 19-yarder to Amari Cooper on third-and-e8 with 2:22 left in the game, allowing the Raiders (12-3) to run out the clock for the 33-25 victory.
They end the regular season next weekend against Denver, then enter the playoffs with McGloin as the guy — not to mention the guy on the spot.
That’s nothing new there. Recall that Bolden, a high-profile recruit, was always supposed to beat him out at PSU, and if not Bolden surely Newsome. McGloin was, after all, just a walk-on — one who was, in time, awarded a scholarship by the late Joe Paterno, but a walk-on nonetheless.
He refused to go away, though. He refused to get lost in the shuffle.
When first-year coach Bill O’Brien installed him as the undisputed starter at the beginning of the 2012 season, McGloin took off, throwing for a then-record 3,266 yards as well as 24 touchdowns, swelling his career total to 46 scores, which was also a record.
Christian Hackenberg overtook his mark for TD throws by two. Trace McSorley has piled up 3,360 yards through the air this season, with the Rose Bowl still ahead.
But McGloin is still hanging around the all-time lists. He just won’t go away. Nor should he be expected to do so now.
It’s just the way the guy is.
Pry shows pride in son, protege
The man behind the curtain when it comes to Penn State’s coaching staff is surely Jim Pry, who served as the offensive coordinator at East Stroudsburg when James Franklin was the quarterback there and whose son Brent is now the Lions’ defensive coordinator under Franklin.
The elder Pry, whose latest stop in a long coaching career is as the offensive coordinator at Bethune-Cookman, told Neil Rudel of the Altoona Mirror that this Penn State season is not unlike one he experienced while an Illinois assistant in 2007. That year the Fighting Illini came out of nowhere to win the Big Ten championship, as PSU did this season.
One small difference, he told Rudel:
“We beat Ohio State when they were No. 1 — not No. 2, as I keep reminding Brent.”
It’s never a bad idea to hang onto familial bragging rights, after all. Jim Pry was also more than willing to brag about his son, having followed the Lions from afar this season, and watching with a coach’s eye:
“You could see the confidence just on the TV. Guys were playing faster, especially on defense, reacting and not just thinking.”
He is not the least bit surprised by the success of Franklin, calling him “a leader and a winner.” Franklin was named to East Stroudsburg’s athletics hall of fame this year, and his senior season was nominated for the Harlon Hill Award, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
And while the elder Pry will again be watching on TV when the Lions meet USC in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2, he certainly hopes things go better for his son and former protégé than they did for that ’07 Illini team in the same game nine years ago.
They too faced the Trojans — and lost 49-17.
Strong opening act for Suriano
Penn State wrestler Nick Suriano, a freshman 125-pounder, went undefeated while winning four New Jersey state championships at Bergen Catholic, and is off to an 8-0 start for the Lions.
Not that he’s completely satisfied, or ever will be. As he told Darren Cooper of NJ.com:
“I’m wrestling pretty well. Not, of course, to my full liking, but I have made some gains. I am tweaking my style a little bit, but staying open-minded while staying with what I do best and what I like.”
Suriano is likewise exploring new possibilities off the mat. For one thing, he has become an avid reader, and is considering communications as a major. For another, he plans to take an acting class in the spring. Per Cooper:
“I kind of don’t think it will be too academically demanding. But really, I had to get an arts class out of the way and I thought that’d be fun. I think it’s going to be cool, and you never know what’s down the road. I am more than just a wrestler.”
The Lions open Big Ten competition Jan. 6 at Minnesota.