Penn State Football: Matt McGloin and the Ties That Bind
As a quarterback for nearly half of his 24 years, life for Matthew James McGloin has been all about making a connection.
On the football field, that has meant throwing for 13,422 yards and 112 touchdowns.
Many of those connections were with Shawn Irving and Hubie Graham at West Scranton High School. And Derek Moye and Allen Robinson at Penn State. And, now, with Mychal Rivera and Rod Streater for the Oakland Raiders.
But McGloin has never been just about that. Whether a high school phenom who didn’t get a D-I scholarship, a Penn State walk-on who blossomed into a record-setting QB or an undrafted NFL rookie who started six games in 2013, he’s still the same guy:
Smart, confident, intensely family-oriented and deeply-ingrained in his formative-years community. That’s still the case now, even though his workplace is the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum -- located a continent away from his Lackawanna County roots.
“Coming from Scranton is different than from a lot of places,” said McGloin on Thursday, talking by phone from – where else? – Scranton. “Growing up here I was always taught hard work beats anything. It’s a blue-collar region. It’s not a real wealthy area, so a lot of people here have to work hard each and every day.”
That’s one of many lessons he learned from Paul and Cathy McGloin while growing up with brothers Paul Jr. and John on Merrifield Avenue in West Scranton. Here are two more:
From Cathy: “My mother always told me that no matter where you go in this life, always remember where you’ve come from.”
From Paul: “My dad is always saying, ‘Hey, you have to give back and help in any way you can.’ ”
Matt will put those lessons to good use on Saturday, when he’ll host a pair of charity events at Scranton’s St. Mary’s Center to benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeast Pennsylvania. The first is a “Tailgate for Kids,” slated for noon to 3 p.m., with games, autographs and photos with McGloin and several of his old Penn State teammates – a few of whom are now in the NFL. Admission is $10 for adults and free for kids.
That evening, beginning at 7 p.m., McGloin and Co. will host what will surely be a rousing reception, with food and drinks, for $100 a person. Being a(n ultra-)competitive guy, McGloin guarantees that the events will raise more than $50,000, which they did in 2013, the first year McGloin took part.
McGloin is using his Penn State connections to help meet his fund-raising goal. Former teammates slated to attend are Moye (Pittsburgh Steelers), Mike Farrell (Denver Broncos), Matt Stankiewitch (Jacksonville Jaguars), former West Scranton and Penn State teammate Eric Shrive, Pete Massaro and Mike Yancich.
“All the guys I played with at Penn State are going to be there,” McGloin said. “They were there for the first year and when I asked them to do it again they said no problem. Guys are coming in from Pittsburgh and all over the state to help out in any way they can. This just goes to show you the kind of people who go through and will always be a part of the Penn State football program and the university.”
LENDING A HELPING (HERB) HAND
A new Penn State connection will also be on hand. Nittany Lion offensive line coach Herb Hand, who was involved in children’s causes while in Nashville at Vanderbilt, will head east on I-80 to take part. Both Hand and Penn State’s new quarterback coach, Ricky Rahne, have reached out to introduce themselves to McGloin and to make sure he feels welcomed by his alma mater. (McGloin joked that as long as Penn State equipment manager and legend Spider Caldwell “is still there, I’ll always feel connected.”)
“I’m trying to meet those coaches and build a relationship with them,” McGloin said. “I like what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to build relationships with former players and alumni. They told me that any time I want to come back and use the facilities or go to practices, I am more than welcome. I really appreciate that. To see those guys reaching out to former players means a lot.”
McGloin, now a full season removed from Penn State after playing in 2013 for the Raiders, is looking forward to building upon his rookie season. In seven NFL games, he completed 118 of 211 passes for 1,547 yards, with eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He wrestled the starting job away from Terrelle Pryor and will face additional competition to keep the No. 1 spot – quite possibly from an incoming rookie quarterback.
“Not a lot of rookies have that kind of opportunity I got from my experiences last year,” McGloin said. “I definitely don’t take that for granted. I definitely understand what I went through last year. I’m trying to learn and build off of that. I’m trying to keep the job and play in Oakland for as long as I can.”
McGloin’s signature performance last season came on the road against Houston. In his first start in the NFL, he threw three touchdown passes, with zero interceptions, to lead the Raiders over the Texans, 28-23. Houston, of course, has a new coach for 2014 – McGloin’s old coach, Bill O’Brien.
“I talked with Bill when he got the job, just to congratulate him and say keep in touch,” McGloin said.
McGloin was reminded that when O’Brien breaks down the game tapes from that Oakland victory, he’ll see a No. 14 in silver and black who looks awfully familiar.
“Yeah,” McGloin laughed, making the connection. “It’s funny, that game against Houston was great last year. And you know, we play them again this year (in Oakland). It’ll be good to see him. That’ll be a fun one …”
You could almost hear McGloin add, “… to win.”