It's no grand secret that Penn State has been having some issues replacing outgoing senior quarterback Darryll Clark. Four players were vying for the starting job, including two true freshmen, but throughout spring practice and fall camp no individual quarterback stepped up and differentiated himself from the competition.
For his part, up until now, Joe Paterno has been tight-lipped on things. Yesterday, in fact, Paterno refused to name a starter during his weekly news conference. Seems the beloved ol JoePa may have been hiding the truth a bit then, but even so Penn State officially named Robert Bolden starting quarterback:
Penn State just confirmed what The Patriot-News reported first earlier in the day: true freshman Robert Bolden will start at quarterback Saturday against Youngstown State at Beaver Stadium.
Two sources close to the Penn State program told The Patriot-News that Bolden beat out sophomore contenders Matt McGloin and Kevin Newsome for the job.
One source told The Patriot-News the quarterbacks were informed of the decision prior to today and told to keep quiet.
And that is who should lead the Nittany Lions into Bryant-Denny Stadium next Saturday night. Believe it or not, it will be the first true freshman Joe Paterno has ever started at quarterback during his long coaching career.
Now, to be sure, Bolden isn't exactly some random scrub. He was one of the most highly-touted recruits in the country last year as per the self-proclaimed recruiting "experts", and at about 6'3 and 220 pounds, he's got raw size and athletic ability to boot. He wasn't exactly a prolific passer on the prep level -- as a junior he only threw for about 1,000 yards on the season, for example -- but again the raw tools are there, and if nothing else he has the requisite arm strength. In terms of a comparison you may be familiar with, think something along the lines of Jordan Jefferson of LSU.
With all of that said, though, consider the context. This is an 18-year old true freshman who will be, in his first meaningful collegiate game, leading his team into Bryant-Denny Stadium, filled with over 100,000 fans, to face the #1 team in the country and the defending national champions. Given our strength in the defensive front seven and the question marks of the Penn State game, anybody 'Bama observer that tells you he's not salivating at the thought of that is lying through his teeth.