NEWARK, Del. - Ask Delaware football coach K.C. Keeler whether quarterback Pat Devlin is everything he expected and Keeler replies, "He's more than we expected." Then Keeler lists Devlin's strengths.
"Mechanically, he's so sound, so bright," Keeler said Tuesday following Delaware's practice for tomorrow night's NCAA Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal vs. New Hampshire (ESPN2, 8 o'clock).
"Every NFL scout that comes here is so impressed with his mechanics, how he doesn't get rattled. He's the best quarterback, at our level, in the country."
The NFL is the last thing on the mind of the Downingtown East High grad who transferred from Penn State after the 2008 season.
"We're completely focused on the task at hand," Devlin said. "One reason I came here is, the team plays for championships. [Colonial Athletic Association] football is really good football. In my opinon, it's the top conference in the FCS."
Devlin, a graduate student in finance, transferred to Delaware, in part, because of its tradition of sending quarterbacks to the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco is the latest on a list that includes Rich Gannon and Scott Brunner.
Asked whether he envisions himself in the NFL when he watches Flacco, Devlin replied: "I haven't thought about it. Whatever happens after the season, that's a bonus on top of my college career."
Keeler says NFL scouts tell him Devlin should be drafted between the second and fourth rounds.
Devlin, the CAA's Offensive Player of the Year, has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,414 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has thrown only two interceptions in 292 passing attempts.
"[The interceptions] weren't mistakes," Keeler stressed. "They were a tipped ball, and one should've been pass interference.
"People nit-pick that he doesn't have a rocket for an arm. But that's because there's nothing else to nit-pick. His footwork, intelligence, decision-making and poise are incredible. He has a very accurate and strong arm."
While Delaware (10-2) hasn't played New Hampshire (8-4) since 2007, although both are in the CAA, Devlin knows the Wildcats will be a stubborn opponent. UNH defenders have 33 sacks and 23 interceptions.
"They have a very good defense," Devlin said. "They do some things we haven't seen. They move around a little." *