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Bond keeps Jones at PSU

August 10, 2012
By Cory Giger ( , The Altoona Mirror

UNIVERSITY PARK - Backup quarterback Paul Jones said he briefly considered transferring when the NCAA sanctions came down, and now that he's staying, he will "definitely see time this year" on the field, according to coach Bill O'Brien.

"Maybe for the first, like, hour when they said we could go anywhere," Jones said of his transfer thoughts. "I started daydreaming, picturing myself in different uniforms and playing for other teams.

"But when it came down to it, the bond I have with my teammates here outweighed everything, and I knew I wanted to stay here."

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Senior Matt McGloin was anointed Penn State's starting quarterback in June, but O'Brien does plan to give the redshirt sophomore Jones opportunities to play. The coach gave no specifics about how Jones would be used.

"Paul will play this year. Paul will play," O'Brien said. "Paul is a good player, an instinctive guy, a playmaker. He's progressed."

Jones, who sat out last year because of academic issues, said he and McGloin "have different styles."

"I'm a little bigger and a little faster ... but at the same time there's a lot of things that are similar," he added.

Jones said his parents and his high school coach heard from about 20 schools looking to recruit him. Nine PSU players did transfer, including third-string quarterback Rob Bolden, who was beaten out by Jones.

"We don't have any hard feelings towards anybody that left," Jones said.


Hairy issue: McGloin sported a full beard during media day, something that wouldn't have been allowed under Joe Paterno. O'Brien, though, has a much looser hair policy, and several players are taking advantage of it.

Third-string quarterback Shane McGregor, whose nickname is "Sunshine," has let his blond hair grow out, something he was never able to do before.

"Oh no, that's for sure," he said with a laugh. "You see me, you see some of the guys around here, that would never be happening."

Linebacker Gerald Hodges said the facial hair on some of the guys makes them look "nasty," but he meant it in a good way as he was referring to how fierce they look.

Linebacker Michael Mauti and running back Michael Zordich were having a discussion about which one of them has the best hair on the team. Neither of them, however, have locks as distinctive as McGregor or receiver Alex Kenney, who has a big, wavy head of hair.

Then there's McGloin's beard, which he said, "might be here to stay, at least for the first game."

"It just allows us to have more fun," McGloin said of the hair freedom. "A lot of guys are trying to grow mustaches all through camp. It's just another way to have fun, kind of take your mind off the playbook and practice as well."

Three tight ends?: It's no secret that O'Brien will utilize the tight ends more - there are two starters in the basic offensive package - but the Lions have formations with three and on occasion even four tight ends on the field at the same time.

It may not be unusual, then, to see at least three tight ends take field for some plays this season.

"It's nuts, but it's great," starter Kyle Carter said. "I love it. I'm excited."

Kicking jobs: With Anthony Fera gone to Texas, O'Brien said sophomore Sam Ficken is in line to take over the place-kicking duties. The punting job is a close battle between junior Alex Butterworth and redshirt freshman Matt Marcincin from Blair Academy in Malvern.

Road awareness: It's been suggested by some that Penn State could face extra hostility from fans on the road in light of the scandal and NCAA sanctions.

"I don't really get into that too much," O'Brien said when asked about that possibility. "I talk about focus. We have crowd noise and blast music and things to use our silent cadence.

"If you've got rabbit ears on the road, you're in the wrong line of work. It's time to play football, and you have to focus on the game and the task at hand, not the crowd around you."

Royer update: O'Brien would not disclose the circumstances that led to redshirt sophomore tight end Dakota Royer leaving the football team. Royer announced his decision Wednesday but will remain in school, and as part of the NCAA ruling, he can remain on scholarship for his education even though he's no longer on the team.

"You'd have to ask him about circumstances," O'Brien said. "You'd have to ask him. I respect Dakota, think he's a great kid. He's just decided not to play football anymore. I'll keep the conversation between him and me."

Uniform changes: The Lions' uniforms will features players' names on the back this season, plus a blue ribbon to show support for victims of child abuse.

"They both mean a lot," Jones said when asked which change is most important. "Coach O'Brien said the last name is so everybody can know who the guys [are] who stuck with it."

As for the blue ribbon, Jones added, "It's important ... to make sure that everybody knows that we didn't just forget about what happened."

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