FEATURE: McGloin Defines Hard Work

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Confidence has never been a problem for Matthew McGloin.

Tell him that he cannot do something, and McGloin will set out to prove you wrong.

Every day, the signal-caller walks onto the practice field or into the film room wanting to be the best.

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His scholastic career is living proof of that.  McGloin was a three-sport standout at West Scranton High School, earning 10 varsity letters before graduating.  On the gridiron, he threw for 5,485 career yards with 58 touchdowns.  He was a three-year starter on the basketball team, scoring more than 1,300 career points.  McGloin was also a three-year starter as an infielder and pitcher on the baseball team, batting over .400 and tallying a 7-0 mark on the mound as a senior.

Despite throwing for more than 5,000 yards, the road into the ranks of college football was not going to be easy for the decorated prep athlete.

"I was a good athlete in high school, but I didn't really have anything in terms of offers," McGloin said.  "I was looking I-AA schools or even Division II schools.  I was being recruited by a few schools, like Pitt or Temple, but I didn't have any offers.  I knew that I didn't want to play at a place with just a few hundred people in the stands."

Growing up in a place where football is engrained into the culture, you were "either a Notre Dame fan or a Penn State fan", McGloin said.  So, being a Nittany Lion was always on his radar, but it was not until he received a phone call from former offensive line coach Dick Anderson did an opportunity present itself.

McGloin received an offer to be a preferred walk-on for the Nittany Lions before the 2008 season.  He visited Happy Valley, never had any regrets, and he decided to enroll at Penn State.

Being a walk-on, McGloin knew he was going to face an uphill climb every step of the way in Happy Valley.  As a true freshman during his redshirt season, McGloin was on the scout team offense going against a defense that finished the season ranked No. 9 in the nation.

"It was definitely frustrating at times," McGloin said.  "You think about whether or not you made the right decision.  At times, you felt like you wanted to pack it in and go home."

That being said, McGloin was never going to quit.  If you know anything about him, the bigger the challenge, the more he wants to prove he belongs.

"I always thought that if I packed up and went home, I was letting other people win," McGloin said.  "That's what motivated me early on in my career.  I always wanted to work harder than ever and never give other people the satisfaction or let them believe that they beat me."

It goes without saying that being a scout team quarterback is not easy, though.  Day in and day out, McGloin was in charge of engineering the offense of the week's opponent while going against the first team defense and some of the most talented defensive Penn State players in the past decade.

"That first year when you are on the scout team, it is definitely frustrating, but at the same time you are trying to prove yourself," McGloin said.  "When I was on the scout team, Aaron Maybin was over there, Sean Lee, Josh Hull, Ollie Ogbu.  They weren't taking it easy on you, either.  I was getting hit.  I was just trying to make myself better going against one of the best defenses in the country."

Following his first season in the program, McGloin played in the 2009 Blue-White Game.  He went 9-for-13 for 111 yards and two touchdowns.  His efforts at practice on the scout team and during spring practice did not go unnoticed by the coaching staff and he was rewarded before the 2009 regular season began.

After a practice near the end of training camp in August, McGloin received a phone call from head coach Joe Paterno.  Coach Paterno notified McGloin that he would be on scholarship for the 2009 season and beyond.  As a backup to All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark, McGloin saw action for the first time against Syracuse on Sept. 12, 2009.

"Once you get a taste of being out on the field for the first time you want it constantly," McGloin said.  "From that point forward, I knew that I was going to have to work harder than ever to stay out there."

Move ahead to his senior season.

On June 1, McGloin earned the trust of head coach Bill O'Brien as the starting quarterback heading into the 2012 season.  The hard work from the previous four seasons paid off, and McGloin entered the summer knowing he was in charge of the offense.

At the time, McGloin was just five months removed from the first time he had met O'Brien.  The two immediately forged a bond.

"After that first meeting in January, there was no doubt that this is type of guy you wanted to play for," McGloin said.  "I am very fortunate to have Coach O'Brien and Charlie Fisher in my life right now as coaches and mentors."

McGloin and O'Brien are cut from the same mold.  Both are fierce competitors with fiery personalities.

"We have a ton of fun together; it's a great relationship, but at the same time we both know where the line is between having fun and working hard," McGloin said.  "You don't really see that too often in life where you have a relationship that good with someone who you just met."

Being a quarterback in O'Brien's offensive scheme is no small task.  The quarterback is in charge of orchestrating all facets of the pro-style attack, not to mention learning an NFL playbook.  McGloin worked tirelessly through spring practice trying to learn the new offense, often asking himself when things were going to click.

But as time wore on, he became more and more comfortable running the show on offense and things started to become like second nature to him.  He said that by the time spring practice ended, he stopped thinking so much about what he was doing and just focused on playing football with confidence.

"This is my fifth year.  I understand what to do out on the field. I understand where to go with the football.  I understand when to take a shot and when to get the first down.  In terms of being a leader and confidence level, it all comes with experience," he said.

Coach O'Brien would be the first person to tell you that McGloin has made tremendous progress since the start of spring practice.

"Matt has a really good grasp of the offensive operation and how to run the show," Coach O'Brien said.  "He has worked incredibly hard since spring practice in the film room to get better."

And McGloin's competitive personality fits O'Brien's style to perfection.

"This is a guy that the more you're around him, the more you enjoy coaching him," O'Brien said.

While the two have a tremendous amount of respect for one another, the fiery competitive personalities are bound to clash in the heat of battle.  Right?

"It has been close, but I have held back," McGloin joked.  "It will probably happen later in the year.  No matter what happens, though, it is a great relationship...I think we are too alike to get into an argument."

His journey to the starting quarterback job at Penn State has taught McGloin more than he can ever imagine.  He will reflect on it one day, but right now he has work to do.

"I have a job to do, and if you don't get it done you aren't going to be out there too long," McGloin said.  "I don't really think about anything else.  I don't stop and look around.  I go out there and play the game."

Heading into Big Ten play, McGloin leads the conference in passing yards (251.5 ypg) and is tied for the Big Ten lead with nine touchdown passes.  The senior threw eight touchdowns during all of 2011.  He will head into the conference season off of a career-best 318-yard outing against Temple.

The on-field growth he has made since arriving in Happy Valley as a preferred walk-on is immeasurable, and the journey has not been easy.

Adversity is something McGloin will always talk about when he is asked about his time at Penn State.

From receiving zero scholarship offers after a stellar career at West Scranton to playing quarterback for a coach who guided the likes of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, McGloin's journey in Happy Valley has featured lifetime of lessons in a five-year span.

It is a time No. 11 will never soon forget, and his time at Penn State is something he will cherish forever.

"In the future, when life throws adversity after you, you know that you can handle it because of the things you went through when you played college football," McGloin said.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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