The biggest day of Matt McGloin's football life is rapidly approaching, as Penn State will hold a Pro Day for NFL scouts next Monday and the Big Ten's leading passer will have his final shot at impressing them.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder must prove he has the intelligence, arm strength, precision and mobility needed to make it in the NFL. When it comes to confidence, however, the brash Scranton, Pa., native has nothing to prove.
McGloin's been brimming with the stuff since he set foot on campus as an invited walk-on in 2008, and it's a big part of what helped him quickly earn a scholarship, then playing time and then the starting job while competing against teammates who had glowing credentials when they entered the program.
Asked what he intends to tell scouts who ask what he'll bring to their team, McGloin laughed and said, “I could keep you here all day.” Then he rattled off the answer as if he'd said it a thousand times.
“When it comes down to it, I'm going to outwork every guy you have,” McGloin said. “I have been doing it since I've been at Penn State. I'm going to out-compete guys next to me, I'm going to be better than them in the film room. I'm going to make better decisions, just like what happened at Penn State in the past -- and every quarterback who has made the decision to quit or transfer.
“It's there, it's happened,” he added. “That's what I bring to the table -- I'm going to force guys to quit.”
That's not hyperbole. After serving as the scout team quarterback while redshirting in 2008 and then as a backup to All-Big Ten QB Daryll Clark in 2009, McGloin methodically broke the spirit of one former prep standout after another.
Heading into the 2010 season, it was a three-way race between McGloin, and former four-star prospects Kevin Newsome and Rob Bolden. McGloin ended the season as the starter and the following fall Newsome quit the team (he eventually re-surfaced at Temple).
Heading into the 2011 season, it was a three-way race between McGloin, Bolden and former five-star prospect Paul Jones. Jones had academic issues and was never a factor. McGloin ended the regular season as the starter (but missed the TicketCity.com Bowl due to injuries sustained in a scuffle with a teammate).
Heading into the spring of 2012 -- and with former New England Patriots' offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien having taken over as PSU's head coach -- McGloin was again in a three-way battle with Bolden and Jones. McGloin was named the starter at the end of the spring. Bolden transferred to LSU before the season and Jones (after being asked to move to tight end) quit during the season.
And McGloin went on to enjoy a record-setting campaign. It did not come as a surprise to him, especially once he began working in O'Brien's pro-style offense and with new quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher.
“When you're around a great strength staff, a great coaching staff and a great head coach, you're set up for success,” McGloin said. “The team was tremendous. The guys really bought into what we were trying to do offensively. And of course, Coach O'Brien and Coach Fisher just made my career and I have them to thank for that.”
McGloin was disappointed he was not invited to the February's NFL Scouting Combine, saying, “When you lead the Big Ten in every passing category and don't get invited to the Combine, it's tough.” But it's been something of a troubling norm for the conference in recent years, as only one man who has led the Big Ten in passing the past five seasons (Northwestern Mike Kafka in 2009) was invited to the Combine. Also, there were only 16 QBs invited to Indianapolis this year, the fewest in the past half decade.
It makes Penn State Pro Day that much more important for McGloin.
“Especially for quarterbacks who have to throw live,” he said. “You're surrounded by a lot of scouts and it can definitely mess with you mentally. But I feel comfortable and confident that I'll be successful and hopefully I'll impress some people.”
To get the best out of his Pro Day experience, McGloin is relying on something new and something old.
On the new front, after the 2012 season he headed to Los Angeles to work out at Athletic Gaines under renowned trainer Travelle Gaines. While there, he threw to Oklahoma's Kenny Stills and Arkansas' Cobi Hamilton every day. He also drilled with Kenjon Barner (RB), Kyle Long (OL) and Dion Jordon (DE/LB) of Oregon, and Chance Warmack (OL) of Alabama. He worked with a quarterback coach, too.
“He just helped me finish my throws (and) helped me with my mechanics a lot,” McGloin said. “Just getting me over the hump that I needed to get through. Worked on my core strength, getting my arm stronger. It was really Combine training, Pro Day training. I feel like I'm in really good shape for Pro Day.”
On the old front, during Pro Day McGloin will be throwing to former Penn State wideout Derek Moye. In 2010 and '11, McGloin and Moye appeared to develop chemistry on the field. Moye is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
McGloin is traveling to Pittsburgh this week to work out with Moye, and then will return to Happy Valley “just to put everything together and make sure that I'm feeling as comfortable as I can be.”
While McGloin's comfort level may be a bit in question as the most important day of his football career approaches, his confidence level is as high as ever. He's not sure exactly who hands out invitations to the Combine, but he's positive he'll prove them wrong soon enough.
“It's just another thing that I have to overcome, and I have no problem doing it,” he said. “I've been fighting since I've been at Penn State and I assume I'll have to continue to fight to play at the next level. So I'll just have to prove to everyone that they made a mistake at the Combine by showing them what I can do at Pro Day.”