UNIVERSITY PARK - The prospect of a new chapter in Paul Jones' football career at Penn State briefly was the end of his career as a Nittany Lion.
Jones, the redshirt sophomore from Pittsburgh, told reporters after Saturday's 34-7 win against Navy before 98,792 fans at Beaver Stadium that he quit the team for about 20 minutes after being told by Lion coach Bill O'Brien early in the week heading into the Virginia game that he wanted to move him from quarterback - where he's played since he was 13 - to the team's 'F' tight end.
"That Monday I tried it. That Tuesday afternoon I told him I didn't want to play it. Then he told me not to go to practice. Then I thought about it, and I came to practice and started a new position," Jones said.
So now it's on to the future.
Hailed as the potential cure to Penn State's search for a franchise passer when he committed to the Lions as a prized recruit from Sto-Rox High School, Jones saw his first action on the other end of the passes against Navy, throwing a couple of blocks and then catching a loudly cheered 7-yard pass from Matt McGloin for a second-quarter first down.
"Anytime you get switched from quarterback to any other position, it's going to be tough on you mentally, but Paul's accepted it. He just wants to contribute," Lion starting quarterback Matt McGloin said. "Unfortunately, he only had one catch today, but he was excited. I'm happy for him. Hopefully, in the future, we'll get him the ball in space and see what he can do with it."
"The first play I blocked, and it was all right. The second play I blocked. The third one was the catch. As the ball was coming to me, I kind of got nervous, because it was coming right at me," Jones said of the out throw along the Penn State sideline which kept a drive alive leading to the Lions' third touchdown. "After I caught it, my body just went numb. I stopped thinking and just started reacting to everything. It was fun."
Jones said there were no mixed emotions about the move, but it's apparent there were leading up to the Navy game.
Jones arrived at Penn State as one of the top five rated quarterbacks in the country and endeared himself to Nittany Lion fans early, showing flashes in his first Blue-White Game. But he quickly fell behind fellow Class of 2010 recruit Rob Bolden even though he enrolled in January while Bolden arrived at University Park during the summer.
Since then, he has battled ineligibility and been surpassed on the depth chart by McGloin - a former walk-on. When McGloin got hurt against Virginia, it was true freshman Steven Bench, not Jones, who got the call from O'Brien.
Of course, by then, Jones' move to receiver already was in the works - Jones said it grew out of a joke where he compared himself to Aaron Hernandez while watching New England Patriots film with O'Brien, and the coach took it seriously - and there were some tense moments.
"I said, 'All right, I'll try it.' I didn't want to for an hour and a half, and then I talked to him some more, and then I said, 'OK, I'll do it,'" Jones said. "Me and coach talked about the pros and cons of everything. Me and him have a good relationship. We vented. I said everything. I cried a little bit. At the end of the day, when I went to the office, I knew where he was coming from, he knew where I was coming from."
Jones said playing quarterback has helped in the transition, and his teammates thought he was picking things up fairly quickly.
"Paul is definitely an athlete. When Coach made the decision to get him some reps at tight end, we knew it would benefit the team," Lions leading receiver Allen Robinson said. "Route-running is probably something he wasn't used to. He's gotten repetition with that in the last couple of weeks. That's something he's come a little ways."
Jones hadn't thrown a pass in an actual game. When he made his first catch, the partisan Lion crowd showed its appreciation.
"It felt good," Jones said. "This whole process, the crowd has been behind me. Nittany Nation has supported me every single day on Twitter and Facebook. I knew once I got on the field, they would support me, but I didn't know it would be that big."
Despite all the work and hard times, Jones was able to enjoy the moment.
"I was calling him 'No-moves Jones' for a second at the end of the game. I said, 'You caught it and got tackled. You couldn't do something with it?'" McGloin said. "But Paul's a great player. We're lucky to have him here."
The question is where does Jones go from here. The 'F' tight end position is very flexible. Sometimes it's a wideout, sometimes an H-back, sometimes a wing.
"We'll get him more involved. He's a great kid. I was glad to see him catch that ball. That was a good start for him," O'Brien said. "We've got to keep building that package with him."
Jones said he'll be whatever O'Brien needs him to be. But this new chapter for the 6-foot-4, 258-pounder - who O'Brien has said still will see reps at quarterback - is a completely open book.
"I'm just going to be open and try this new position and see how it goes. Then, after the season, we'll talk and see what is the best thing for me," Jones said. "I'm waiting to see what happens just like you guys. I can't wait to start this new role and see what happens.
"It felt good. Me and McGloin joked around. He said I only had one catch. I told him I had to start somewhere. It was way more than I expected to get when I first got to campus, but it felt good to be out there playing with my brothers.
"We'll see where it goes from there."