Part 1: Matt McGloin on the Penn State Football Sanctions, Playing in the NFL and Christian Hackenberg
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part interview with Matt McGloin, the former Penn State quarterback who set several passing records while leading the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record last season and is now a rookie with the Oakland Raiders. Part 2 on Monday will cover the challenges and successes of the 2012 season and the rebuilding job Bill O’Brien faced in his first year as head coach.
Almost any time is a good time to talk with former Nittany Lion quarterback Matt McGloin. He’s unabashedly candid, broadcast journ grad articulate and big-league successful.
But this week? Well, this week is especially good.
First, the NCAA reduced its sanctions against Penn State a year after McGloin was one of the main heroes of the Nittany Lions in 2012.
And now it looks like McGloin – a rookie quarterback with Oakland in the NFL – has a very good chance to dress for the Raiders’ Sunday afternoon home game against Washington (4:25 p.m. Eastern).
Oakland starter Terrelle Pryor will likely be sidelined following a concussion suffered Monday night against Denver. That would move veteran back-up quarterback Matt Flynn to the No. 1 spot and make McGloin the No. 2 signal-caller, just one snap away from seeing his first NFL regular-season action.
“The nicest thing has been the people who have supported me and reached out to me – the coaches, my parents and brothers, family, friends, people I haven’t heard from in a long time,” McGloin said by phone from Oakland on Wednesday night. “I get mail at the (practice) facility, messages on social media. It feels great.
“At the same time,” he didn’t hesitate to characteristically add, “it feels even better that all the haters and doubters out there have to be pretty upset right now.”
McGloin had already made the team’s 53-man roster out of training camp, beating 2013 fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson of Arkansas in the process. But McGloin didn’t dress in Oakland’s first three games, a casualty of the NFL’s game-day procedures that drop the active roster to 46.
“But, hey, they still have to pay me the same,” McGloin joked, before adding, “Almost every team dresses just two on Sundays.”
That McGloin, despite a monster breakout season for the Nittany Lions last year, will likely be one of those two for Oakland is quite an achievement. Even for an overachiever like McGloin.
“I couldn’t have done it without coach (Bill) O’Brien,” McGloin said. “I wouldn’t be a quarterback in the NFL it wasn’t for him and coach (Charlie) Fisher,” who tutors the PSU QBs.
Under extreme circumstances in 2012, McGloin broke a passel of PSU passing records while directing O’Brien’s high-flying offense. McGloin threw for a school-record 3,266 yards, and had seven games over 240 yards and four over 300, including a 395-yard, four-touchdown performance against Indiana. Overall, he completed 60.5% of his passes, with 24 TD passes vs. only four interceptions, and won the Burlsworth Trophy as college football’s top walk-on.
So, he had to be a hot commodity after all that, right? Well, no.
Sixteen college quarterbacks were invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last spring. McGloin was not one of them.
Eleven college quarterbacks were drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft and another 12 were graded as “prospects” by NFL.com. That's 23 in all. McGloin was not one of them.
But now, five months later, there are a total of 1,696 players on the 53-man rosters of the 32 NFL teams as of late Thursday afternoon. Only 12 are rookie quarterbacks.
Matt McGloin? He is one of that dozen.
“To be part of that group of 96 quarterbacks in the NFL, to be one of those guys, is pretty exciting,” McGloin said. “At the same time, you know how I am – I’m still searching for something more. Still trying to be better. Still trying to improve and compete.
“But there still are the questions, so I have keep at it every day. A lot of guys have the ability. The talent at this level is unlike any other. But what separates is how you prepare mentally, how you approach practice, how you deal with adversity, how you make adjustments. That’s how you make a career out of it.”
With that as a backdrop, we caught up with McGloin to get his opinion on a number of subjects – something he is always happy to do. Here he is on:
The sanction reductions: “I was definitely excited and kind of shocked. As much as you want to think something will happen, that the NCAA will overturn it, you really didn’t think it was going to happen. I’m very happy they didn’t turn their backs away from us and they were aware of the things we’re doing. They’re recognizing the change at the university. I’m happy for coach O’Brien and the staff.”
The battle with Wilson for a roster spot: “Early on, I think they realized I was capable of playing at that level. First and foremost, it’s about being a professional. I was just mentally ahead of some guys who were drafted. That’s something they liked about me – that’s why they kept me. I played and practiced well. … They cut Tyler and he cleared waivers – which means no other team wanted to sign him. So they re-signed him and he’s on the practice squad.”
Keeping in touch: “I’ve talked with coach O’Brien about three times since the season started – just a few texts back and forth. I talk with coach Fisher a lot more often; we’re really close. … I’m working six out of seven days a week, so it’s tough to watch them play. I watched the second quarter and the rest of the opening game. That was the day when we cut down to 53 (for the regular-season roster). It was kind of hectic, so I didn’t get to enjoy it very much.”
His successor, freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg: “He’s obviously a great talent with a lot of potential. I met him once. He’s a Penn State guy – a good kid. Coach Fisher is always giving me updates, and he says that Hackenberg works hard, is very coachable. I’m happy to hear that.”
Part 2 on Monday: McGloin on the hidden rebuilding of Penn State football, the nearly-overwhelming pressure of the 2012 season and Bill O’Brien’s future.