McGloin to the Raiders
Former Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin signed a three-year contract with the Oakland Raiders today, making him one of three rookie quarterbacks on their roster. ComRadio sports director Willie Jungels wrote this feature about the player's determination, work ethic, and pursuit to play the game.
All Matt McGloin Has Ever Wanted Was a Fighting Chance.
The McGloin household in Scranton, Pa., was a rough-and-tumble one, with three very competitive boys. From Connect Four to schoolyard basketball, they fought to win – and often fought with each other in the process.
Matt had the toughest assignment of all. He was 14 years younger than Paul and seven years younger than John. The age difference toughened him up and even as he grew older he wouldn’t back down either brother. That was especially true at West Scranton High School, where Matt was a star pitcher and Paul was the baseball coach.
Even with his sibling as the coach – or maybe because of it – Matt didn’t tone down his fiery demeanor. His temper and sharp tongue were so bad that Paul kicked his own brother out of a game, sending him packing while the teams were still playing. And not just once, but twice.
“Sometimes Matt is competitive to a fault,” the elder McGloin joked. “My mom would always ask me, ‘Why does everything have to be a competition?’ ”
To this day, competition and self-confidence drive Cathy and Paul McGloin’s youngest son. And certainly did so throughout his five years on the football team at Penn State. The quarterback admits that being a younger brother forced him to want to prove himself, which carried into high school, where he pushed for a football scholarship. Though he could have easily played baseball on a collegiate scholarship, as a high school senior he decided to bypass that opportunity to become a preferred walk-on quarterback – meaning no scholarship -- at Penn State under legendary coach Joe Paterno.
“Everybody was like, ‘He’s nuts,’ ” McGloin said. “I didn’t even step foot on campus yet and they were already counting me out and that stuff kind of fuels me.”
At 6-foot tall and 180 pounds, he received zero out of five stars from several recruiting websites. He was seen as too small and not athletic enough to survive at the college level. He entered Penn State with a five-star quarterback recruit from Virginia, Kevin Newsome.
From Day One however, he made it clear that he was not at Penn State to hold a clipboard. “The first time I saw him, I said, ‘Man this little redheaded kid is fiery,’ ” said Chima Okoli, a two-year starter at offensive tackle for Penn State. “He never took crap from anybody.”
After redshirting his freshman year, in 2010 McGloin was determined to start as a sophomore after passing Newsome on the depth chart. However, quarterback coach Jay Paterno had recruited four-star recruits Rob Bolden and Paul Jones. Despite a strong preseason training camp by McGloin, Bolden was named the first freshman starter at Penn State in nearly 100 years.
“It was difficult,” McGloin admitted. “The kid was on campus for a couple of weeks and they’re just going to give him the keys to the kingdom?”
That’s typical McGloin, who received his degree in broadcast journalism. He is unfiltered and unflappable, without pretention. McGloin is aware that he comes off as cocky, but he knows his belief in himself has been crucial to his success.
“He knew he was better than all of the (other) quarterbacks,” said Penn State offensive lineman Eric Shrive, who played with McGloin in high school and college. “He was thrown into the fire nearly every game, but was always proving he was the best.”
After steadily earning more playing time than Bolden, McGloin had marquee performances over Michigan and Northwestern in a pair of nationally televised games in 2010. In those two victories alone, plus the final two regular-season games against Indiana and Michigan State, he passed for 1,102 yards and 11 touchdowns, with a solitary interception. The walls came crashing in on him, however, when he threw fiver interceptions in a loss to Florida in the 2011 Outback Bowl.
Despite the meltdown, “I clearly felt as if I won the competition in the spring and summer camps hands down,” McGloin said. While many of his teammates agreed, Jay Paterno did not. Heading into the 2011 season, the Paternos decided Bolden and McGloin would share playing time.
“There were nights I packed my bags and called my parents and said I’m coming home,” said McGloin.
“I was physically sick for him,” older brother Paul acknowledged. “I probably would have transferred.”
Again, as McGloin would say, “I put on my hard hat and went to work.” That he did, outplaying Bolden the entire season en route to an 8-1 start until the Jerry Sandusky scandal hit, leading to a frustrating end to a 9-4 season that saw Paterno get fired after 46 years on the job.
Penn State named Bill O’Brien to succeed Joe Paterno. The former New England quarterback coach and offensive coordinator “saved my career,” McGloin said. “He put his trust and faith behind me and I never worked harder that summer.”
McGloin memorized the playbook by making note cards and reading plays into the mirror. He studied hours of video. And worked himself into the best shape of his life. His reward? The long-coveted starting job, prompting Bolden and Jones to both transfer. McGloin had an exemplary season 2012 season that featured a single-season Penn State record for passing yards (3,271) and a school-record 46 career touchdowns.
Despite the career season, McGloin was not invited to the NFL combine or drafted. However, McGloin is confident—no surprise there-- he will be on an NFL roster come August when preseason football camp starts.
“I’m going to outwork guys,” he promised. “I’ve made a five-star quit, two four-stars leave and transfer. I’ve done it in the past. I have no doubt that I can do it at the next level.”
Neither does Okoli: “After his freshman year, I asked him what his plan was. He told me he was going to start at Penn State and go to the league. I laughed. Now he has made me a believer and I fully expect him on a team.”
Willie Jungels is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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