IN FOCUS: QB Paul Jones

Get the lowdown on how Penn State's redshirt sophomore is progressing during the spring.


THE PLAYER


Paul Jones, QB, (6-foot-3, 245 pounds)

To say it's been a long road for Jones may be an understatement. But now academically eligible and working with a new staff, Jones appears to be taking advantage of the opportunity in front of him.

With a clean slate for the Penn State quarterbacks under Bill O'Brien, Jones has emerged in the early sessions and has been in a "first-team battle" with veteran starter Matt McGloin, both of whom had split the bulk of starting reps through the first third of spring drills. In Friday's scrimmage, however, Rob Bolden also received his share of first-team reps.

"Paul's been determined," one observer shared. "I think it's clear that he's got another shot so he's got to take it or toss it."


THE ASSESSMENT


Mechanics: Jones throwing motion has been described as smooth and fluid. His release is said to be relatively quick, although O'Brien has been working with him on aspects of his technique.

He's shown an ability to deliver short, intermediate and long balls. However, he has drawn praise for delivering deep passes with confidence.


Progression: This is one of the areas Jones is spending time on this spring. "He sees a lot of what's in front of him, but may stop part way at times and completely miss an opening in the coverage," an observer said.

He has shown improvement with his check downs and shown that he can move the ball around, which is said to be critical to what the coaches are looking for from their QB.


Footwork: Jones has shown good balance and moves well in the pocket, particularly for his size.

The coaches like the way Jones carries his weight. And while he'll never be a pure running quarterback, they seems to think he can make things happen rolling out or moving around the pocket.


Understanding: The coaches are throwing quite a lot at the quarterbacks, which has been a challenge for them. They are regularly running multiple backfield looks, empty backfields and no huddle. "The pace is probably the biggest change," an observer said. "It's a lot to get into the no huddle. But then the speed of it makes it more complex."

Jones is getting acclimated, "but it's going to take time." As another observer said, "Clearly (O'Brien) puts a lot on his quarterbacks. It makes me appreciate what Tom Brady does a lot more."


Impact: While it seems that the veteran McGloin is the odd-on choice to land the starting job under center, several observers are "not counting out" Jones at this stage. They point to his size, agility and general ball delivery as major factors that are serving him well.

"He certainly has a lot of work to do, but so do all of the QBs — this is a pro offense they are running," an observer said. The main question is about his ability to grasp and develop a comfort with scheme given the pace they'd like to run.


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