Question: Who should be the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions?
Answer: Paul Jones
Reason: Paul Jones is, without question, the most athletically gifted of the quarterbacks on the Penn State roster with the build of a tight end and the arm strength of a professional quarterback.
Analysis: Paul Jones has taken the tough route to a quarterback competition that has been alive for two years. Coming out of high school as a highly touted, Army All-American with a laser rocket arm, Paul left high school in January and enrolled at Penn State in January of what should have been his senior season in high school. That gave Paul the chance to practice with the team in the Spring, then play in the Blue-White game. Without the quarterback position solidified that Spring, Paul won over the fans with an impressive two touchdown performance on a day lacking in offense.
Despite that, enrolling early may not have been the best course of action for the 6’3″ 245 pound Jones. Paul was forced to sit out his freshman season due to academic reasons. According to him, he was a credit short of the mandatory limit for NCAA athletes. Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden took turns struggling at quarterback during a 7-6 season while Jones worked to straighten things out in the classroom. The following summer, fans wondered if Jones would step up and take his rightful place as the starting QB for Penn State. Unfortunately, Paul would fall just short (.02, to be exact) of the required GPA for NCAA athletes and would miss yet another season due to athletic reasons.
Paul has apparently found his groove in the classroom and has put together back to back qualifying semesters. He is not only in the thick of the quarterback competition, but should be named the starter in the coming weeks when Bill O’Brien releases the initial depth chart.
Paul Jones has the strongest arm that we have seen in Penn State for some time. Coupled with that, his scrambling ability and pocket presence has drawn praise from pass-rushing specialist, Paul Massaro. PJ has the ability to get the ball down the field, which will force defenses to respect every spot in the defensive backfield. On a team where the best weapon is likely Silas Redd, a quarterback who can stretch the field is essential to utilize that weapon.
Paul could have given up at any time over the last two seasons, but didn’t. During a time when Kevin Newsome left the program and rumors about Rob Bolden doing the same thing were floated around, Paul continued to grind. He has been through adversity and has shown the ability to overcome it. That kind of mental toughness, combined with his obvious physical ability is exactly what Bill O’Brien needs to lead this team into the future.