Penn State Spring Game: QB Clark expresses confidence in backup
Starter says No. 2 freshman quarterback Newsome showing a lot of improvement
Saturday, April 25, 2009
By Ron Musselman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's Daryll Clark has thoroughly enjoyed tutoring freshman quarterback Kevin Newsome in spring practice.
Newsome, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound freshman who has been enrolled in school since January, is being groomed to serve as Clark's backup this fall.
Clark said he expects Newsome to see considerable playing time today in the Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium, where a crowd of approximately 70,000 is expected.
"He's developed a lot," Clark said. "He's way more on time with his passes than he was when he came out at the start of spring practice. That's always good. Our defensive line is one of the best in the country, so they did a good job of getting after him a little bit and getting him a little frustrated at times.
"It's a slow process, but he's doing very well now. Honestly, I think he's going to play very, very well [today]. I think he's going to light the scoreboard up."
The transfer of Pat Devlin to Division I-AA Delaware late last season left the Nittany Lions very thin at quarterback.
Newsome, who spurned Michigan to sign with Penn State, is the only scholarship quarterback on the roster besides Clark, a senior who has been wearing a red no-contact jersey all spring.
Redshirt freshman walk-on Matt McGloin has been running No. 3 on the depth chart.
"Kevin is a work in progress," Clark said. "He's getting better every day, so him being the backup I feel is not going to be a problem at all. And yes, he has been taking a majority of the No. 2 team reps, and McGloin is a guy that mixes in as well. Sometimes, Kevin will take the No. 1 reps to see how he responds to that."
Center Stefen Wisniewski from Central Catholic High School, who has moved over from guard, also has been impressed with Newsome's strong arm and running ability.
"He's been adjusting," Wisniewski said.
"He's freakishly athletic. He gets rushed in the pocket and he gets out of that pocket in a second. He's making plays that have your jaw dropping.
"He still makes mistakes, as you'd expect, like throwing a pick here and there. Once we get through fall camp, he'll have good enough hold to be a solid backup quarterback."
Clark, a first-team All-Big Ten Conference quarterback last season, said he's not sure what the quarterback rotation will be for the scrimmage.
"I do know I'll be wearing the red jersey," he said. "I really don't know how many plays I'll play. Hopefully, I'll be able to play a lot.
"I don't really want to take any breaks or anything like that. ... Everyone is going to get a shot. The quarterbacks are going to get a lot of reps."
When Clark finally does get meaningful playing time in the fall, he said he might have to alter his running style to avoid any more concussions.
"I think this year going into the season I'm going to really work on protecting my body," Clark said.
"Some hits that I took last year, I'm going to try not to take those hits. I'm going to slide or get out of bounds because I can't afford to have another concussion.
"I want to be in every play of the season. I feel like I'm important to this team; I want to be important to this team and I want to help -- not hurt -- this football team. So, I've evaluated some of that and thought a little bit about what I have to do in order to preserve the body."