LOS ANGELES -- Here's to you, Mr. Robinson.
Former Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson will make the trip south from San Francisco today to meet up with his star pupil, Daryll Clark.
The two former teammates have exchanged text messages and phone calls regularly since the spring game in April, but this will be their first face-to-face meeting in eight months.
"I'm really excited he's coming," Clark said yesterday. "I really can't thank him enough for being there for me, each and every step. After that Iowa game [a 24-23 loss], he was the first one to text me, the first one to call me.
"He's had a great influence on me and has been a great friend."
Robinson, who just completed his third season as a running back with the 49ers, led the Nittany Lions to an 11-1 record, a No. 3 ranking and a triple-overtime victory against Florida State in the 2006 Orange Bowl.
Clark will lead No. 6 Penn State (11-1) against No. 5 Southern California (11-1) in the Rose Bowl Thursday.
"Actually, Mike told me he was jealous because he wanted to play USC when they had Reggie Bush and [Matt] Leinart and those guys," Clark said.
Robinson will be one of three former Lions on the sideline for the New Year's Day game, joining 1995 Rose Bowl MVP Ki-Jana Carter and 1973 Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti.
"He's going to be a big cheerleader," Clark said of Robinson.
When No. 2 quarterback Pat Devlin transferred to Delaware earlier this month, it left the Lions with seldom-used third-stringer Paul Cianciolo and wide receiver Derrick Williams as the backups.
Offensive coordinator Galen Hall said Cianciolo, a fifth-year senior who has completed just 10 of 17 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns in his career, will back up Clark.
"He knows the offense," Hall said. "We probably wouldn't change a thing with Paul in there over Daryll."
Williams has taken several snaps from the shotgun in the Wildcat formation this year.
Asked how he looked in practice, wide receiver Deon Butler said: "He looks like a guy who hasn't played quarterback all year. ... He hasn't looked crisp."
Penn State will wear its white jerseys, with USC wearing red. The Trojans had first choice because they are the higher-ranked team in the BCS bowl game.