Joe Paterno listens to a question from a reporter during media day on Friday.Fred adams/for the times leader
Quarterback Daryll Clark answers questions from reporters during Penn State’s Rose Bowl media day on Friday.Fred adams/for the times leader
STATE COLLEGE — Pat Devlin left Joe Paterno’s house on Monday with his parents and his services.
There was no doubt, Paterno said, that the talented quarterback was going to transfer from Penn State. This came after Devlin and his parents, Mark and Connie, sat down with the coach to discuss his future at the start of the week.
With Devlin’s mind set on leaving, the only real question was whether he would accompany the Nittany Lions along to the Rose Bowl.
Paterno ended up making the decision for him, and Devlin’s playing career at Penn State came to an end.
“They came over the house on Monday, we talked and it was obvious that he was gonna leave,” Paterno said at Penn State’s Rose Bowl media day on Friday. “I said, ‘Would you like to come out to the Rose Bowl,’ – which I probably should not have said – and he said, ‘Well, it’s up to you coach.’
“And then when I thought about it, I thought it might be a distraction. I didn’t think it would be fair, particularly if he wasn’t gonna (stick around).”
Thus, the Lions head into their Jan. 1 matchup with No. 5 USC with Daryll Clark as the starting quarterback and fifth-year senior Paul Cianciolo as the backup.
After that is anyone’s guess. Wide receivers Derrick Williams and Brett Brackett, both of whom played quarterback in high school, have taken a few snaps under center in practice. Beyond them is freshman walk-on Matt McGloin from West Scranton.
The timing of Devlin’s decision puzzled some teammates and coaches, but will likely give him a chance to enroll at another school in time for the spring semester and get a head start with classes and with his new team.
Late reports on Friday indicated that Devlin was likely headed to Delaware, a top FCS program where he wouldn’t have to sit out for a season before playing. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was taken in the first round of the NFL draft out of Delaware this past spring.
“I don’t think I want to sit and judge what Pat and his family wanted to do,” Paterno said. “I’ve got kids of my own and there were some tough decisions we’ve had to make with them from time to time, and I think that Pat obviously had been thinking about it for awhile.”
Still, teammates said Friday they were universally surprised that Devlin decided to leave the program. Several said they had heard that the highly touted quarterback might leave, but ultimately dismissed those rumors as just that.
Clark, who beat out Devlin for the starting job in the offseason, didn’t find out that those rumors were true until Devlin didn’t appear for a team workout this week. Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno broke the news to him afterward.
“If it was me, I think I would’ve gone about the whole transferring idea a different way,” Clark said when asked about Devlin’s thought process. “I don’t really know if I would’ve transferred, to be honest with you. Because I made the decision to come here, and despite the fact that things didn’t go my way, you still gotta ride it out.”
Clark theorized that Devlin may have been influenced by Clark gaining a fifth year of eligibility back in September.
Though it was more or less a formality, it guaranteed that Clark would be back as the starter for the 2009 season, leaving Devlin with just his senior year in 2010 to start and make an impact on NFL scouts.
“Maybe he sat down with his parents and they talked about it and wanted to see what else is out there because they felt that he deserved to play more than he did,” Clark said.
Clark was further pressed to put himself in Devlin’s situation – losing the competition for the spot and having only one year to start. He reiterated that he would’ve stayed put.
“I chose to come here,” Clark said. “And regardless of what happened, I’m not just gonna, if things don’t go my way, get upset. Obviously you’re frustrated if you’re not playing, but just make the best out of the one year you have. … I wouldn’t have transferred, but he chose to.”
Devlin is still at Penn State to finish the semester with finals and was spotted walking around the Lasch Football Building on Friday. Senior wideout Deon Butler, among others, said he had talked to Devlin briefly and that he was still eating meals with the team.
Even teammates who were fairly close to Devlin weren’t sure when he made up his mind – including Graham Zug, his roommate and one of his best friends on the team.
“Yeah, I was real shocked,” Zug said. “I know Pat just loves football and wants to play football, and that’s what he’s doing – going somewhere he can get time.”
“The timing is maybe not the best as far as we’re concerned, but it may be the best for him,” Paterno said. “And I have no ill feelings, as I told him. I said, ‘Pat, I hope you made the right decision, and I wish you luck.’ And I do wish him luck. He’s a good kid, he’s a fine football player.
“Obviously it’s a loss for us, but you go on. … It’s his life, and he has to make the call that he thinks is the best for him.”
No. 8 Penn State vs. No. 5 USC
5:10 p.m., Jan. 1, ABC
Rose Bowl, Pasadena Calif.