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Penn State Football: No. 4 QB Shane McGregor Hopes to Write a New Chapter in his Career

by on April 27, 2012 7:00 AM

This is the fourth in a four-part series profiling each of Penn State's quarterbacks.

Fourth-string quarterback Shane McGregor is a fifth-year senior who walked-on at Penn State.

He is best known for winning a $5,000 national essay competition and scholarship for his sports journalism class, but he has not yet written off his career under first-year head coach Bill O'Brien.

"I'm living my dream," McGregor said. "I have to pinch myself – my coach just coached in the Super Bowl, for Tom Brady, for the New England Patriots. We're running an NFL offense." 

That attitude has been instrumental in keeping McGregor's motivation high despite his lack of playing time.

A 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg, Pa., he hasn't become jaded, nor has he given up on his fledgling career despite completing just 1-of-4 passes for 12 yards prior to hitting on 4-of-4 attempts for 47 yards in Saturday's Blue-White Game at Beaver Stadium.

McGregor, who was the emergency backup quarterback in January's TicketCity Bowl in Dallas after Matt McGloin was injured in a scuffle with teammate Curtis Drake, understands his place on the team.

"It would be different if someone was including me in something for once, but I've always been playing catch up," McGregor said. "I was good in high school, but I wasn't that good. I'm here, just grinding, with relentless effort. I'm keeping the faith."

Last year, McGregor hung a note card in his locker that read: Jan. 9, 2012, Keep the Faith.

Auburn's Cam Newton led his team to the BCS title in 2011, and McGregor knew, somehow, he had to get there.

"I'd see that every day, that was my goal," McGregor said.

Shortly after the 2011 campaign began, Penn State lost to No. 2-ranked Alabama in Week 2.

But the Nittany Lions bounced back to win seven consecutive games in what turned out to be the final season under Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. They were 8-1 when Paterno was fired Nov. 9 in wake of the child sex abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

However, Penn State dropped three of its final four games during a tough end to the season under interim head coach Tom Bradley, and McGregor watched the Nittany Lions dream of winning a national championship on the field fade away.

Enter Malcolm Moran, Penn State professor and Knight Chair of the Curley Center for Sports Journalism, who helped McGregor land a spot in covering the Jan. 9 national championship game between Alabama and LSU in New Orleans as part of a partnership involving the Curley Center.

Meanwhile, Moran said it was McGregor's attention to detail that helped him become one of five recipients of the national essay competition sponsored by the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation.

McGregor overcame long odds, numerous rewrites and at least 30 other applicants to capture the award. McGregor's essay on Paterno "graded out the best" among the winning applicants.

"When you sit in the stands, you don't get to see that attention to detail, the amount of film study, or the extent of things he'll do before and after practice," Moran said of McGregor.

Turning his thoughts back to the field, McGregor insists there's no limit to how much he can improve in O'Brien's pro-style offense as long as he keeps working hard and moving forward.

"I love learning about the game, knowing every detail," McGregor said. "When we watch film, we're watching the best quarterback in the [NFL] at work.

"I was blessed with a certain way to look at things, from every pass that I throw, to every minute of film that I watch. If I apply the same effort as I would on the field in a new way, I can approach everything in a way that will make me well-rounded, it will make me better."

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Laura Nichols is a StateCollege.com news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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