Competitiveness key to Penn State QB McGloin's growth
November 23, 2012 10:15 AM
Matt McGloin's competitiveness has led him to his position as starting quarterback at Penn State.
By Mark Dent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Quarterback Matt McGloin was referring directly to the quickly famous words he spoke after Penn State's loss against Nebraska: "I don't regret anything I ever say."
He could've been talking about anything and everything else from his memorable career. Living free of regret has been McGloin's signature since 2010. He has been Penn State's id. Unchecked by restraints, the impulsive McGloin leads in a way that has teammates constantly praising his confidence. Off the field, he has never shied from speaking his mind, whether it leads to a controversial sound bite or a locker-room punch from a teammate.
His roommate, center Matt Stankiewitch, said all athletes are competitive, but McGloin is a little more competitive than most.
"The competitiveness doesn't really ever stop," Stankiewitch said.
It never has.
In Scranton, McGloin grew up as the youngest of three brothers. Paul was 13 years older, and John seven years older. By the time he was 5 or 6, McGloin started playing football with them and their neighborhood friends, even though he was tiny in comparison.
His mother, Cathy McGloin, would peek through the blinds and yell at them to take it easy when they tackled McGloin. Most of the time, they didn't listen.
"I don't think it was the fact that I let him play because he was my brother," John said. "It was that he was good enough to play with us. He was good enough to at least compete."
Despite the age difference, the brothers were close as McGloin grew up. John attended Lehigh University and visited often, and Paul Jr. coached McGloin's West Scranton High School baseball team.
They would make sure McGloin always got the best equipment and the wisdom they had gleaned from their athletic backgrounds, but they challenged him, too. One time, McGloin got into spat with Paul at baseball practice, and Paul sent him home.
"My two older brothers are great mentors, two of my best friends," McGloin said. "I've learned a ton from them. I'm outspoken; I get hot at times. They are more calm and relaxed. I had to fight and kick and scream."
What happened after his formative years is well known. He didn't get a Division I-A scholarship offer and walked on at Penn State. He split time with Rob Bolden for the 2010 and '11 seasons, threw five interceptions in the Outback Bowl and attracted distaste from the fan base.
His career stat line before this year read: 3,119 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. And then he met Bill O'Brien, who, if not for sporting significantly less hair and having lived significantly more years, would be his duplicate.
"We're both Irish men," McGloin said. "We have a bit of angriness about us. I guess we can both fly off the handle at any second."
Both said they clash often, always trying to improve each other. O'Brien said he'll never forget the moment in the spring when he asked McGloin to draw a complicated play called Gut Trips Right 64 Special H Sneak. It took him three seconds to diagram the read, the coverage, the protection, everything. O'Brien knew right then he had found what he needed for his offense.
"You have to have a brain that can work fast," O'Brien said. "You have to be competitive and have a huge desire to win, and he has that."
In the past, the instincts could overshadow and offset McGloin's intelligence. He would try to throw the impossible passes, and he would think about the mistakes for too long, causing them to build. O'Brien's offense granted him a complex system to grasp yet enough freedom to make his own calls at certain times, to live by impulse, like against Indiana last week. He called for Allen Robinson's route that turned into a 26-yard touchdown pass in the first half.
Going into his final game, McGloin has season totals of 3,066 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and five interceptions. Cathy, John and his father, Paul McGloin, each said they can't imagine McGloin without football. The sport always has been his release.
"It's the football driving him," his father said. "My wife and I were talking and thinking about Saturday being the last game. I said to Cathy, 'we have no idea, no idea after Saturday what it holds for Matt.' "
McGloin does. The other day, as expected, he wasn't afraid to share his future plans.
He wants to play football until they say he no longer can. He wants to play in the NFL, no matter the obstacles.
"I wasn't supposed to play here at all," he said. "You guys remember that?"