St. Joseph's Prep star QB jumps on Penn State's merry-go-round

Posted: July 20, 2011

Obviously, Joe Paterno has no problems successfully recruiting high school quarterbacks with excellent credentials to Penn State. Where he has a problem is in keeping everyone happy once they arrive on campus.

The fact that St. Joseph's Prep star Skyler Mornhinweg committed Tuesday to Penn State will dredge up memories of the last quarterback from the Philadelphia area snared by Paterno - former Downingtown East standout Pat Devlin.

Pennsylvania's all-time leading high school passer with 8,162 yards, Devlin nonetheless hardly played after going to Penn State. He redshirted his first year and backed up Anthony Morelli and Daryll Clark the next two seasons before transferring to Delaware, where he played for two years. After going undrafted, Devlin hopes to hook up with an NFL team once the lockout has ended.

Clark certainly was no slouch, leading the Lions to a 22-4 mark in his two years (2008-09) as a starter. But he went 0-2 against Iowa and lost a home game to Ohio State, a team that Penn State defeated in 2008 after Devlin relieved the injured Clark in the second half.

Clark and Devlin are no longer playing in college. Yet the debate continues, at least in this part of the world, whether Paterno made the right call.

Paterno and his son, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, again have to make the call during preseason practice to see which of four signal callers will be named starter for the season opener on Sept. 3 against Indiana State, and how they can soothe the three who don't get the assignment.

The 2010 season ended in disarray for Nittany Lions quarterbacks. Matt McGloin, a former walk-on who started five games at the end of the season, threw five interceptions in the Outback Bowl loss to Florida. Rob Bolden, who held the job until he suffered a concussion against Minnesota, never got off the bench against the Gators and announced his intention to transfer.

After Joe Paterno refused to release him from his scholarship, Bolden competed in spring practice and did so well that Paterno said he was "99 percent sure" his starter in September would be McGloin or Bolden. Still, Bolden kept everyone guessing for a long time on whether he would stay, and only recently did he say he would be back for the preseason.

In the meantime, Kevin Newsome, considered the favorite to begin the 2010 season as the starter, indicated his desire to transfer last December but he's still around. Paul Jones, who redshirted his first year, was believed to be disgruntled at his lack of reps in the spring, but his high school coach said he would stick with it.

Mornhinweg indicated the team's quarterback drama had no effect on his decision. He said he and his father - Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg - watched film of the Nittany Lions and "we really liked the way they ran their offense."

"I'm going to Penn State for the great football history," he said. Should none of the four quarterbacks leave after this season, Mornhinweg most likely would redshirt after arriving in 2012.

The next year, Bolden will be a senior and Jones a junior. While no one can see two years into the future and determine whether Paterno will continue to pace the sideline at Beaver Stadium, he has a history of loyalty to his upperclassmen regardless of position.

That could leave the door slightly open to the possibility that Mornhinweg, who doubles as a safety for St. Joe Prep, could be shifted to defense.

"Once I get to Penn State, I'm just going to try to learn and get better every day," Mornhinweg said. "So I'm prepared to compete and then we'll see what happens from there."

He then paused and said, "I'm a quarterback."

Unfortunately for Mornhinweg and the other blue-chip quarterbacks recruited by Paterno over the years, only one can play the position at a time.


Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com

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