Monday, March 30, 2015

Penn State's Paul Jones as tight end experiment begins

In Saturday's 34-7 win against Navy, Jones -- a redshirt sophomore who came out of spring practice as Penn State's No. 2 quarterback -- made his debut at tight end.

Penn State's Paul Jones as tight end experiment begins

How exactly did the Paul Jones tight end experiment begin? According to Jones, it started as a joke.

"We were watching the Patriots film, and Aaron Hernandez caught a lot of balls," Jones recalled. "And I said, 'Coach, that was me,' kind of joking around."

Coach Bill O'Brien didn't see it as a joke. He and Jones talked about the possibility and said Jones should try it out.

In Saturday's 34-7 win against Navy, Jones -- a redshirt sophomore who came out of spring practice as Penn State's No. 2 quarterback -- made his debut at tight end.

Jones received limited playing time, but caught the only ball thrown to him. It was a seven yard catch.

It was the first time Jones has ever appeared in a game. He redshirted his freshman year then sat out last season to focus on academics.

"I was glad to see him catch that ball," O'Brien said. "It was a good start for him and he also had a couple blocks in there which was good to see. We have to keep building that package with him."

Jones has been working at the new position for two weeks. He is still taking practice snaps at quarterback, but with Matt McGloin secured as the starter, having Jones as a tight end allows O'Brien to get his most athletic players on the field.

Jones -- who passed for 5,667 yards and 60 touchdowns in high school -- is 6-foot-3, 258-pounds, and according to McGloin has great hands.

"Paul had a great week at practice," McGloin said. "He has great hands and a lot of ability. So hopefully he can catch more balls in the games so we can see what he can do." 

O'Brien said he would like to get Jones more involved in the Temple game. Jones doesn't mind -- though he might have been against the idea two weeks ago.

After he and O'Brien had their chat, Jones was apprehensive.

"I kind of didn't want to for like an hour," Jones said. "And then we talked and I was like alright, I'll just do it."

-Emily Kaplan

About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

Joining Joe this season will be John Stuetz, an intern for The Inquirer and senior at Penn State majoring in print journalism and marketing. This is John's third season covering the Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A native of Glenside, Montgomery County, John graduated from Cheltenham High School.

For Joe, this will be his fifth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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