When Pat Devlin announced he would transfer from Penn State just days before the 2008 Rose Bowl, he left Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions in a difficult spot - their backup quarterback would be unavailable during the most important game of the year.
Believing his skills could be better utilized elsewhere, the former Downingtown East standout and top recruit packed his bags and headed to Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) Delaware, where he knew he would get an opportunity to play right away.
Now going into his senior year, Devlin has spent the spring preparing for Delaware's annual Blue-White spring game on Friday at Delaware Stadium.
He said he has no regrets about his decision to leave Penn State.
"I don't have any bad blood with anyone there," he said. "I was just happy to get this opportunity and happy coach (K.C.) Keeler would offer it to me."
Devlin's transfer over a year ago continues to have an impact on Penn State. The Nittany Lions were left shorthanded at quarterback and with the graduation of signal-caller Daryll Clark, who beat out Devlin for the starting position, Penn State will be starting a quarterback with little-to-no college game experience in the fall. Had Devlin stayed, he would likely be Penn State's starter.
While Devlin's abrupt move created a flurry of rumors regarding what happened between Penn State head coach Joe Paterno and the quarterback, Devlin said Paterno was supportive of his decision and understood his motives.
"When I talked to Joe before I left, he said, 'I want what's best for you and I don't want to hurt your playing opportunities,'" Devlin said. "And, you know, that was that."
The transfer certainly got Devlin on the field. He started all 11 games for Delaware last fall, culminating in a 6-5 record. He led the Colonial Athletic Association with 253.7 passing yards per game and was a candidate for the Walter Payton Award - the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
When he transferred to Delaware, Devlin immediately drew comparisons to former Blue Hens quarterback and current Baltimore Raven Joe Flacco, who had transferred to Delaware from Pitt also looking for an opportunity to play.
In similar fashion to Devlin, Flacco transferred as a junior and led the Hens to a mediocre year in his 2006 debut. The next year, Delaware advanced to the FCS National Championship game and subsequently, Flacco was selected No. 18 overall in the NFL draft.
Although playing in the NFL has crossed his mind, Devlin said he is concentrating on the moment.
"That would be great if that happens," he said. "Right now, I'm just focused on doing it at this level and doing it at the highest level that I possibly can right now."
Devlin has been working on everything from footwork to correcting bad habits in hopes of improving upon last year's performance and distinguishing himself among college quarterbacks - a task made much more difficult playing in the CAA as opposed to the Big Ten.
"You just watch film and you pick one thing every day," he said. "We had a high-speed camera here the other day and sometimes I was patting the ball. You've got to work on getting that out of your motion and everything, so I just try to find one thing a day and try to work on it."
While his football career has taken him elsewhere, the former Penn State backup still has roots in Happy Valley.
Devlin's girlfriend still attends Penn State and he said he still stays in contact with his friends and some coaches there.
"You know, it's almost like leaving high school again," he said. "It's a place where I was at school for three years, but now I made some friendships here and when I got here they (welcomed) me in with open arms and they were all great."
Even though Devlin isn't playing with the big boys any more, he is consistently reminded that he can make it at the next level, despite coming from a smaller program.
Delaware alumni are invitedto attend Delaware's Spring Game tonight and Flacco likely will be there.