Sources close to the Penn State and Delaware football programs have indicated that now-former Nittany Lions quarterback Pat Devlin has decided to continue his college career with the Blue Hens.
Although Delaware coach K.C. Keeler has not scheduled a press conference to formally announce that Devlin will transfer to the Football Championship Subdivision school (formerly Division I-AA), the source indicated that it is university policy to withhold comment on a transfer player until the player officially enrolls. That could be as early as Jan. 5, should Devlin enroll in the winter session, or as late as Feb. 9, which marks the beginning of the spring semester at the Newark, Del., campus.
Devlin, a redshirt sophomore who set the Pennsylvania high school passing record of 8,162 yards while at Downingtown East, would be eligible to play next season as a junior. If he had opted to transfer to another Football Bowl Subdivision university (formerly Division I-A), he would have had to sit out the 2009 season.
It has been something of an open secret that Devlin had been discontented with his status as the backup to starter Daryll Clark since late August when Clark won a spirited battle for the starting job.
Devlin and his parents, Mark and Connie, both of whom are former Penn State cheerleaders, toured Delaware's football facilities over the weekend at which time the 6-4, 222-pound pocket passer with the NFL-quality arm is said to have made his decision to commit to the Blue Hens.
For those who have been following the situation closely since the preseason, Devlin's decision comes as no surprise.
Asked on Aug. 27 how he felt when told by coach Joe Paterno that Clark, who has another year of eligibility remaining, had beaten him out, Devlin said, "I don't know what the feeling is. Maybe it's disappointment. It's probably a lot of feelings mixed into one.
"You work so hard for something, you feel pretty good about it and the next day they tell you you're not going to start. There's still frustration . . . If they put me on the field a little bit, I guess that's what I got."
Although there was some speculation that a two-quarterback rotation might evolve, as was the case when Rashard Casey and Kevin Thompson split time in 1998 and '99, all Clark did on the field was play well enough to support his case for being the full-time starter. He was responsible for 26 touchdowns this season, passing for 2,319 yards and 17 TDs while running for nine additional scores.
Devlin, who originally committed to Miami in 2005 before a coaching change caused him to reconsider, showed flashes of the form that made him one of the most heavily recruited quarterbacks in the country. He completed 25 of 47 passes for 459 yards and four touchdowns, and his passer efficiency rating of 163.3 actually was higher than Clark's 145.2.
In what was his most significant appearance of the season, and his Penn State career, Devlin entered the game at Ohio State on Oct. 25 after Clark went out with a concussion and, although he did not attempt any passes, he scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard sneak.
But it was in the regular-season finale against Michigan State that Devlin got to showcase his big arm, finding Deon Butler on a 59-yard touchdown bomb that hit Butler in stride.
That proved to be Devlin's final touchdown pass with the Lions. Two weeks ago, he and his parents visited with Paterno, at which time Devlin revealed his intention to transfer. There was some question as to whether Devlin would remain with the team through the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl game against Southern California, but Paterno decided that would pose a distraction.
At Delaware, Devlin will join a team that has a history of sending quarterbacks to the NFL. Joe Flacco, who transferred to Delaware after a stint at Pittsburgh, is now the rookie starter for the Baltimore Ravens. The most notable UD quarterback to have gone on to play on Sundays is Rich Gannon, whose 17-year NFL career ended in 2004. Gannon was the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2002, the same season he led the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Other Delaware passers to have gone on to the NFL include Scott Brunner and Jeff Komlo. Andy Hall, who led the Blue Hens to the 2003 Division I-AA national championship, was drafted by the Eagles in the sixth round in 2004 but never appeared in a regular-season game.
Penn State's depth situation at quarterback for the Rose Bowl is a bit precarious with Devlin's departure. Third-teamer Paul Cianciolo has moved up to the second unit, but wide receiver/kick returner Derrick Williams, who has taken some direct snaps out of the "Wild Lion" formation, likely would be No. 3 on the depth chart in an emergency situation. Another wideout, converted quarterback Brett Brackett, has been taking some snaps in practice just in case he is called upon to play there against USC. *