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For Delaware's Devlin, no regrets about leaving Penn State

If he had his druthers, Pat Devlin would just as soon blend into the scenery at the University of Delaware.

After two seasons of doing little as a Penn State quarterback, Pat Devlin moved to Delaware, where he found success.
After two seasons of doing little as a Penn State quarterback, Pat Devlin moved to Delaware, where he found success.Read moreMICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer

If he had his druthers, Pat Devlin would just as soon blend into the scenery at the University of Delaware.

It's just that his talent doesn't afford the unassuming 6-foot, 4-inch, 220-pound quarterback a chance at anonymity.

The Delaware Blue Hens are one win away from playing for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title, and no one else wearing the blue-and-gold winged helmet is more responsible than the 22-year-old from Downingtown East High School.

"This whole process has been a great journey for me," Devlin said the other day, shortly before the Blue Hens (11-2) practiced for Saturday's FCS semifinal against Georgia Southern (10-4) at Delaware Stadium.

And quite a journey it's been. It's well-documented that Devlin, who was ranked among the nation's top high school quarterbacks, spent three years at Penn State and played two seasons there, both as a backup. He played in only 13 games, the most memorable when he came off the bench in 2008 for the injured starter, Darryl Clark, and led the Nittany Lions to two scores in a 13-6 win over top-ranked Ohio State. Out of concern he might be stuck behind Clark, Devlin later transferred to Delaware.

As far as Devlin is concerned, Penn State may as well have been 100 years ago. He said he left Happy Valley on good terms and still stays in contact with some of his former coaches and teammates.

Otherwise, Devlin couldn't be happier with the way the last two years have gone at Delaware, and it's easy to see why. He earned a degree in finance in the spring and took three classes toward a master's this fall. The marks he's made on the field are impressive as well.

"I thought I would love it here, and I absolutely do," he said. "Academically, I love it. And football-wise, it's been a great situation."

Reluctant to talk about himself, Devlin has statistics that come through loud and clear. He leads the FCS (Division I-AA) in passing efficiency. He has completed 225 of 330 passes (68.2 percent) for 2,675 yards and 20 touchdowns against only two interceptions.

"He reads defenses with ease, and he'll pick you apart," said Andrew Pierce, a freshman from Cumberland Regional who leads the Blue Hens in rushing. "He's a great guy, a fun guy in the locker room. But out on the field, it's all business. He's a smart guy. He's our leader, and he's like a coach to me."

Devlin is among 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and a candidate for the Walter Payton national player of the year award. He became the second Delaware quarterback in four years to be named Colonial Athletic Association player of the year. Joe Flacco, now the quarterback of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, won it in 2007.

Devlin said that Delaware's offense, which sends out five receivers when it's in a spread, is a quarterback's dream, and that offensive coordinator Jim Hofher is always open to his suggestions.

"Coach Hofher and I have a great relationship," Devlin said. "I can basically tell him what I'm feeling comfortable with, and he'll tell me what he wants to do with the offense. There's input both ways, and I think that makes the team a lot better."

Devlin said that he wasn't influenced by Flacco when he decided to move on to Delaware and that in the few conversations he's had with him they didn't even talk football.

But it seems logical that Flacco's success in the NFL will alert pro scouts to the current quarterback prospect from Delaware.

Mike Mayock, who ranks college prospects for, said a more detailed evaluation of Devlin's chance to make it in the NFL will be made during the week of practice for the East-West Shrine Game and at the NFL scouting combine in February.

"The East-West Shrine Game will be a great opportunity for him," Mayock said. "He has good size. He understands the game. He's got a good, but not a great, arm. And I think he earned respect from the pro scouts this fall. I've heard nothing but good things about him. He will definitely be invited to the combine."

As of now, Mayock sees Devlin as a third- or fourth-round draft pick, although he emphasized it's too soon to project where he'll be taken.

"The knock on Division I-AA or Division II players, obviously, is the quality of competition," Mayock said. "But the CAA is the best I-AA conference in the country, and Pat is going to have an opportunity in a postseason all-star game to allay any concerns. He's going to be standing next to quarterbacks from a BCS school, throwing every day. It's really not about the game. It's about the practices. From what I understand, those practices are going to be critical for him.

"Going to the combine will help him, too," Mayock said. "The teams meet with players at night, and I think things will go well for him because he's well-spoken, and he's smart. He'll impress them."

Devlin said that, sure, he wants to play in the NFL, but that he's not thinking past Saturday's game.

"I'm not worried about measuring myself against anybody," he said. "There's a task at hand."

Devlin said the difference between Division I-A and I-AA is the number of scholarships. The FCS has a limit of 60 scholarships as opposed to 85 in I-A.

"I mean, James Madison beat Virginia Tech, and James Madison didn't really have a great year in the CAA," Devlin said. "It shows we do have the talent to play with the best teams."

Unlike Division I-A, the FCS has a playoff system, and Devlin loves it.

"It's why we play the games in the first place - to prove who's best," he said. "I don't see where there's much difference to add a couple more games. I love the way the FCS does it. It's a ton of fun."