When Penn State commenced spring practice last month, there were four legitimate contenders for the starting quarterback job.
Ahead of Saturday’s spring game, head coach Joe Paterno has confirmed he’s sliced the number of competitors in half. Whether or not one of the two will remain around to resume the duel in summer camp still remains to be seen.
The legendary coach told reporters before the start of the annual Blue-White game that he’s “99 percent sure it’s going to be one of the two kids.” The “two kids” Paterno refers to are last year’s season-opening starter Robert Bolden and last year’s season-ending starter Matt McGloin.
Based on Paterno’s words, it appears redshirt freshman Paul Jones and junior Kevin Newsome will be on the outside of the battle for the starting job looking in. Paterno said the former’s lack of experience compared to Bolden and McGloin has put him behind, while the former’s work ethic — or lack thereof — is what’s holding him back from giving a serious challenge to the two front-runners.
One thing that won’t happen, regardless of how the duo performs in the glorified scrimmage this afternoon, is Paterno naming a starter.
“No need to. No sense in doing it,” Paterno said.
What effect that will have on Bolden’s future is certainly up for debate. The true sophomore requested a release from his PSU scholarship earlier this year, but was denied by Paterno. While he returned to the program, his mother said earlier this week that’s she’s uncertain whether he will remain in Happy Valley following the spring sessions or look to transfer.
For what it’s worth, Paterno feels Bolden will stay and resume the fight in camp.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah