NITTANY NOTES: Passing Judgement

OK, so Penn State players have barely had time to wash off the Capital One Bowl mud from their uniforms. But they're already into off-season workouts. See how things shape up with the QB situation.

The Nittany Lions are back on campus and already into winter workouts to get the initial preparations in for the 2010 season. This past week the quarterback candidates began getting some early passing work in. These drills were said to be "very basic," with one receiver on various simple routes and no coverage.

Overall observers feel that the quarterback position is "wide open," given that none of the candidates have extensive experience following the graduation of two-year starter Daryll Clark. "The position is facing a challenging situation," one observer explained. "But it is a huge opportunity for some young player to step up and make an immediate mark on the squad. The question is, who wants it?"

Observers caution that these are very basic "pitch-and0catch" sessions with varying routes, but no coverages or pass rushes.

Here are some (very) early assessments of how the QB candidates look:

Kevin Newsome, 6-foot-2, 225 pounds: Described as having a "solid physique," Newsome "is built." He's strong on drop-backs and "will set his feet firmly," but "doesn't consistently keep his shoulders up and square."

The consensus among observers is that he has the strength to deliver the ball, but his mechanics "take away some of his power and control." Newsome also has a tendency to "short-arm" passes at times where "he doesn't consistently follow-through, which kills the velocity and accuracy on a ball."

In other words, Newsome has the physical tools, but "his technique needs to catch up for him to get consistent." Newsome is also said to be a "favorite" around the program for his personality and "natural leadership."

Strengths: Size, physique, strength, mobility.

Improvement Areas: Technique, follow-through.

Matt McGloin, 6-1, 198 pounds: Although he has a smaller physique, some observers convey that McGloin is a "tough player." He has shown a tendency to be sometimes overly aggressive with his delivery, but "he generally has good ball-delivery." At times "he'll try to force a ball into a tight space — he doesn't have the [arm] strength to always do that."

Overall, observers feel he has shown good decision-making this past year. Although "he can through darts," he does not generally have the strength Newsome shows. However, he is said to have the edge on accuracy at this stage. "Matt's got decent mechanics and is, more importantly, pretty consistent with his throws; the receivers seem to know what they are getting with him."

McGloin is also widely said to be "coachable," and "anxious to improve his game." In drills he "was hitting his receivers in stride and in the numbers." He has good basic footwork although he's focused on trying to improve on his drop-backs.

People within the program think he has a realistic shot of being the starter in 2010.

Stengths: Accuracy, mechanics, coachability, decision-making.

Improvement Areas: Strength, drop-backs.

Brett Brackett, 6-6, 230 pounds: The quarterback-turned-wideout is back at the position he originally started out as when he arrived on campus; at least for the time being. Brackett has been tossing balls with the quarterbacks and "looked pretty comfortable," according to one observer. "It hasn't taken him a lot of throws to get back into the groove."

Brackett is said to be "fluid" with his throwing motion, but "slow on his release." Said to be "smart" and "patient," Brackett's size allows him to "draw impressive power into his delivery." With these early passing sessions he has been consistent on the short- and intermediate-range routes, but will need to focus on his deep passes.

The question is whether Brackett's sheer size helps or hurts him under center. "It gives him a lot of power and makes him tough to take down, but he's not an overly fast or agile guy, so it's tough to say at this point — it depends on how his arm serves him."

Some observes want to see how Brackett progresses before anointing him a permanent quarterback. There has also been talk of Brackett helping to possibly help fill out the tight end position, depending on how he comes along with his passing game.

Strengths: Strength, mechanics, patience.

Improvement Areas: Release, footwork, speed, mobility.

Paul Jones, 6-3, 220 pounds: Jones is a fresh face to the program, arriving a few weeks ago. Early on he has impressed observers with his build and overall strength. He's also turned heads with his arm strength, "He can really launch a ball." However, several observers describe him as being "raw." As one observer said, "If his technique comes around he could be really good." He has shown a tendency to force some passes, but as we were reminded, "It's early and he's trying too hard and probably a bit anxious."

Jones has shown an ability to delivery the ball with a quick release and power, but he doesn't always follow through on his release and "he needs to square his shoulders up to his target."

He's shown a good, consistent drop-back rhythm, but will need to work on just getting used to the snap exchanges and "setting his feet with every pass." The big question that will have to wait for an answer is how he picks up the playbook and handles the overall speed of the game at this level. "It's usually a shock to the guys when they get out there since the guys trying to take off your head are a lot bigger and a lot faster" than they were in high school.

Strengths: Strength, ball delivery, general accuracy, drop-back.

Improvement Areas: Technique, patience, footwork. is YOUR source for the BEST content and community covering Penn State football.


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