Penn State backup quarterback Paul Jones leaves team

Backup quarterback Paul Jones, with coach Bill O'Brien, had moved to tight end in an effort to get playing time.
Backup quarterback Paul Jones, with coach Bill O'Brien, had moved to tight end in an effort to get playing time. (AP)
Posted: September 28, 2012

Whenever Penn State coach Bill O'Brien was asked in recent weeks whether former high school phenom Paul Jones liked moving from quarterback to tight end, he replied that Jones was fine with the switch if it meant getting a chance to play and helping the team.

But the experiment that began the week after the Nittany Lions' season opener, and showed itself on the field briefly in the last two games, never panned out.

O'Brien told reporters before practice Wednesday that Jones, a redshirt sophomore, had left the team for personal reasons. The disclosure came one day after Jones skipped practice.

The 6-foot-3, 258-pound Jones, who came to Penn State ranked in the top 10 among high school quarterbacks in his class, began the season virtually even with true freshman Steven Bench for the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Matt McGloin.

However, struggling with O'Brien's new offense, Jones fell behind Bench a short time later. O'Brien said that he and Jones then talked about changing positions and that Jones had run the tight-end idea past his parents.

"He's a team player; he loves the team," O'Brien said at his Sept. 18 teleconference. "He loves Penn State. He just knew he wasn't going to get as much playing time at quarterback right now.

"So he felt like he could help the team. I felt like he could help the team at that position. . . . I would say it was more a mutual couple of conversations, and he felt good about the move at the end of the day."

Jones caught his first and only pass, for 7 yards, against Navy. He lined up in the backfield early in Saturday's game against Temple and ran the ball, but the play lost 7 yards.

Speaking before O'Brien broke the official news on Jones, McGloin said, "It was a shock when I heard he wasn't going to be around anymore.

"He's the type of kid that wants to contribute in any way he can, whether it be as a tight end or quarterback. So it was really sad to see him make this decision. But at the same time, he's got to do what's best for him. I wish him the best of luck."

It was not the career Jones had envisioned after graduating early from Sto-Rox High School in McKees Rocks, Pa., and arriving at Penn State in January 2010 ready to battle Rob Bolden, another four-star recruit, for the starting job.

However, Joe Paterno chose to redshirt Jones that season, with Bolden winning the job over McGloin and Kevin Newsome. Jones did not see the field in 2011, either, after Paterno decided to have him concentrate on academics.

Bolden transferred to LSU shortly after the NCAA announced its sanctions against Penn State.


Contact Joe Juliano at jjuliano@phillynews.com or follow him on Twitter @joejulesinq.

Staff writer Emily Kaplan contributed to this article.

 

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