By Cory Giger
UNIVERSITY PARK - Shane McGregor has worked himself into position to possibly be able to show his quarterback skills on the field this season for Penn State, and the Central Cambria product also recently received a prestigious national honor for his writing skills.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Shane McGregor is the third-string quarterback for PSU.
McGregor has moved up to third string on the Nittany Lions' depth chart with the departure of Kevin Newsome and with Paul Jones being academically ineligible. The redshirt junior is a walk-on and could see the first action of his career if PSU blows out Indiana State, as expected, in the opener Sept. 3.
"I'm very excited," McGregor said. "I've worked hard for three years for this opportunity, and to see it coming sort of to fruition right now is exactly what I wanted."
He's not just excited about the possibility of playing against Indiana State, either.
"I've circled all the games," McGregor said. "That's what I want is to be in the game. It's not just for the blowouts. I want to be in the game for when it matters, so I've got them all circled."
McGregor isn't on a football scholarship, but he just earned a $5,000 national journalism scholarship for an essay he wrote on Joe Paterno. A journalism and English major with a 3.89 GPA, he is one of just five students in the country to earn a scholarship from the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, named after the late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.
The Murray Foundation holds an annual essay-writing contest in which students write a profile on an influential sports figure on their campus.
McGregor, naturally, picked his own coach, college football's all-time wins leader in Division I.
"I took what I knew and what I've seen and wrote about it," McGregor said. "It had to be under 1,000 words, so that was kind of tough, but I wrote it and hoped for the best.
"I thought I had a good chance whenever I submitted it because I worked well with my professor, Malcolm Moran. He helped me out a little bit to formulate a good idea, and I thought I wrote it pretty well. But to finally get the call [about winning[ was real nice. It was a very pleasant surprise."
It's no surprise to those who know him that McGregor has been recognized with a prestigious honor.
"Shane is an outstanding young man, the kind of guy who deserves success," PSU quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno wrote in a text to the Mirror.
There's great competition for the Murray award, Moran said, with students from some of the top journalism schools in the country submitting essays.
"The best way to measure his achievement is to realize how hard it is to earn the scholarship that he just earned," Moran said. "For Shane to accomplish that is really wonderful. He's a great ambassador for us."
Penn State has had two other Murray award winners in the past four years - Mark Viera, who now works for the New York Times, in 2008 and Josh Moyer in 2007.
McGregor, who's working on his first book, is now hoping to make his mark on the football field for the Lions.
Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin are battling it out for the starting quarterback job. McGregor is well behind those two in the competition but would be next in line to play if both suffered injuries.
"Shane has developed into a guy we can play with," Jay Paterno said. "He is smart and committed to everything we do. He knows the offense well and is a great team guy."
McGregor threw for 1,722 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior at Central Cambria in 2007. He also played basketball and baseball.
He could have gone to a smaller school to play football, but McGregor dreamed of becoming a Nittany Lion. He redshirted in 2008, and last year he served as the scout team quarterback.
"I've had a lot of good experiences playing on the scout team," McGregor said. "A lot of guys think of it as a crappy job, but it's playing against the first-string defense and that's a good experience."
McGregor found himself as the third-string quarterback for the Outback Bowl against Florida after Newsome didn't make the trip.
"I got up with the third team last year a little bit, got on the travel squad, so that was a good experience," he said. "I'm just trying to build on it all."
McGregor has been getting all the third-team reps this fall, which has helped his development. He said he spent the spring and summer working on getting his feet in the right position, and the next big challenge will be adjusting to game speed if he gets such an opportunity.
"He definitely knows what he's doing with the ball," Jones said. "I tell him a lot his arm's gotten a lot stronger than last season, and he's more confident."
Cory Giger can be reached 949-7031 and email@example.com.