Could Jones win Penn State’s QB competition?

If there’s one thing we learned from Penn State’s spring game on Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley, it’s that departed quarterback Daryll Clark will be missed in 2010.

Now that the Nittany Lions have completed spring drills and will break for the summer, head coach Joe Paterno may also want to reassess the ongoing competition to replace Clark — a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection — under center.

After declaring before the Blue-White contest that quarterbacks Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin were on equal footing, highly recruited freshman Paul Jones played better than the sophomore signal-callers whom he was apparently behind on the depth chart. The early enrollee finished 5 of 8 for 67 yards and led a more spirited offense while under center — albeit in limited action — connecting with freshman wide receiver Shawney Kersey for two touchdowns as the Blue team beat the White team 17-3 at Beaver Stadium.

Newsome and McGloin, meanwhile, finished a combined 15 of 35 through the air for 160 yards, with McGloin adding two interceptions.

Paterno, who doesn’t have the greatest track record in playing young talent, likely will look to one of the sophomores to take the first snap in the 2010 opener against Youngstown State on Sept. 4. A difficult road schedule then begins with a trip to Tuscaloosa and a tilt with defending national champion Alabama. The last true freshman signal-caller to start for the Nittany Lions was Wally Richardson in 1992, so it’s hard to imagine Jones — as highly recruited as he was — being given the nod.

However, after seeing the struggles of the 6-2, 220-pound Newsome, who completed only 5 of 12 passes for 50 yards with negative-6 yards rushing and three sacks, and the 6-1, 204-pound former walk-on McGloin, who finished 10 of 23 for 110 yards, Paterno and his quarterbacks coach, son Jay, may have a tougher decision than first imagined.

After the game, the younger Paterno warned not to read too much into one scrimmage. In fact, he didn’t seem too concerned with the current QB situation.

“There are a lot of options on the table,” Paterno said when discussing the competition. “That's the fun part. We're keeping you guys [the media] guessing, and, hopefully, keeping Youngstown State, Alabama and the next 10 teams after that guessing, too.”

The elder Paterno said no decision is imminent.

As the backup to Clark last season, Newsome was projected to be the leader of the offense next fall. With the ability to use his legs to avoid pressure, he is capable of gaining positive yardage when a play breaks down, yet consistently making accurate throws remains an issue.

“It may be true that the assumption from people outside the program is that Paul doesn't have a shot, but it's not the assumption on our part as a coaching staff,” Jay Paterno said. “We're going to play the guy who gives us the best chance to win, whether he is a freshman or a senior.”

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