DRUMS — During his college career, Matt McGloin was forced to fight off constant challenges from other guys eyeing his job just to secure his spot at Penn State.
Why should the NFL be any different?
But McGloin believes his never-ending battle to be Penn State’s quarterback will make a big difference when he battles for a roster spot with the Oakland Raiders when the team’s NFL training camp opens later this month.
“I have nothing to lose at this point,” said McGloin, a former West Scranton High School standout who served as the featured guest Tuesday at the Hazleton Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association’s annual dinner. “I just make the best of everything, do as well as I can.”
It’s that type of attitude that produced one of the best seasons and incredible careers a Penn State quarterback ever accomplished.
McGloin went from walk-on to starter, warded off threats from bigger-name recruits Rob Bolden and Kevin Newsome and threw for a Penn State-record 46 career touchdown passes — capped with last season’s school-record 3,271-yard passing season.
McGloin flourished during his final year at Penn State, which came under new Nittany Lions coach and former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien — who steadied the program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that cost former coaching icon Joe Paterno his job.
“In a way, my statistics were kind of overlooked. I wasn’t given enough credit for the way I played,” McGloin said, noting that some critics insisted his performance last year was boosted by O’Brien’s offensive system. “You still have to go out there and make the reads, make the throws.
“I don’t think I got enough credit as I deserve.”
He felt he deserved a shot at the NFL and got one with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent after writing an impassioned letter detailing his unbreakable will to succeed and sending it to all 32 NFL teams.
“It might have helped. I’m not really sure if that stuff matters,” McGloin said. “I just got into something I wanted to say.
“They needed to see a different side of me.”
What the Raiders have seen so far from McGloin is reportedly impressive. Smarts instead of skills. After his work in Raiders rookie camp and organized team activities this spring, some reports indicate McGloin can climb as high as No. 2 on Oakland’s quarterback depth chart and could be in line to start should projected starter and recent free agent signing Matt Flynn falter.
Others aren’t so optimistic, giving McGloin little chance of surviving training camp with the Raiders, who will enter it July 25 with four quarterbacks competing for three spots.
As long as he wins one of them, McGloin isn’t concerned about where he lands on the depth chart at this point.
“The main objective right now is just to make the roster and go from there,” McGloin said.
If he does, it’ll be more because of his smarts than his skills.
“Through OTAs, I think I’ve showed them what I can do and what I can be,” McGloin said. “(I’m) picking up the system very quickly, which I knew wouldn’t be a problem for me. I’ve gotten positive feedback so far. I’m competing out there with three other guys.”
One of those is former Ohio State nemesis Terrelle Pryor, who also grew up in Pennsylvania.
“He’s a great kid, a really hard worker,” McGloin said. “We get along with one another. He tried to help me out just learning the NFL. At the same time, it’s competitive.
“The best man will win.”
McGloin is expected to begin trying to win his coveted NFL spot Aug. 9 when the Raiders play against his old Penn State teammate Sean Lee and the Dallas Cowboys in their preseason opener.
“If I just continue to do what I’m doing, I should be OK,” McGloin said. “It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m going to make the most of it.”