UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State coach Joe Paterno didn't seem too concerned Friday about his unsettled quarterback situation.
He said sophomore Rob Bolden and redshirt junior Matt McGloin are waging a tight battle for the starting job two weeks into spring practice.
"I think [Bolden] has had a really good spring so far, as has [McGloin]," Paterno said. "Those two are a little bit ahead of the other group -- those two are nip-and-tuck right now.
"I'm not sure which one is the better one right now."
Paterno, who blocked Bolden's attempt to transfer in early January, conceded he's not certain if Bolden will return to the Nittany Lions program in the fall.
"I have not talked to him at all about it," Paterno said. "I assume he's coming back. If he doesn't, then he doesn't, whatever's best for him. But we'll talk. I hope we'll talk.
"If he decides to make any kind of decision, it would take it away from our program because I think he could be a real asset. And I think we're a good program for him."
In 2010, Bolden was the first freshman to start a season opener at quarterback for Penn State in 100 years, but he finished the season on the bench.
His starting job went to former walk-on McGloin after Bolden got a concussion Oct. 23 against Minnesota.
McGloin started five of the final six games, connecting on 118 of 215 passes for 1,548 yards. He threw 14 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. But he tossed a school-record five interceptions in the Lions' 37-24 Outback Bowl loss to Florida on New Year's Day.
Bolden started the first seven games last season and eight overall, finishing with 1,360 yards, 5 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions.
Paterno said he doesn't think he will be able to name a starter by the end of spring drills, which conclude April 16 with the Blue-White Game at Beaver Stadium.
"I don't think it has to be a clear No. 1 going into [preseason practice in August]," Paterno said. "I think we have to have a couple of kids that feel like as if they have shot at being No. 1."
Paterno said redshirt freshman Paul Jones, from Sto-Rox High School, and junior Kevin Newsome are running with the second team in practice. Newsome contemplated transferring at the end of last season.
"He may leave," Paterno said. "Newsome has been a whole different situation. He's been here a couple of years. ... He's got to do a little better job in the classroom. He's a bright kid, but he has a tendency once in a while to not pay attention to the academic part of it. Until he does, I'm not going to count on him."
Penn State has lost two potential starters this spring with season-ending injuries -- wide receiver Curtis Drake (fractured tibia) and defensive end Pete Massaro (anterior cruciate ligament tear). Paterno said a third possible starter, tight end Garry Gilliam, also would miss the 2011 season after experiencing complications from ACL surgery performed last season.
Injuries along the defensive line have depleted Penn State's roster this spring. Defensive ends Jack Crawford (foot surgery) and Eric Latimore (wrist) and defensive tackle Evan Hailes (back) are not practicing. And Massaro was injured March 25 when his foot got caught in the turf at practice.
Others slowed by injuries: outside linebacker Nate Stupar (hamstring), tight end Andrew Szczerba (back surgery), cornerback D'Anton Lynn (back spasms), free safety Nick Sukay (pectoral muscle) and tailback Stephfon Green (shoulder).
NOTES -- Paterno, 84, sidestepped a question about his plans after his contract expires after this season: "If you don't win some games, you don't have a future." ... Paterno declined to address a grand jury investigation into allegations that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky indecently assaulted a teenage boy. "We came here to talk about football and the football team," Paterno said. "I don't have any comment."
Ron Musselman: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published April 2, 2011 4:00 AM