STATE COLLEGE - Joe Paterno was back in the press box Saturday, but it had nothing to do with his health. That surgically repaired hip is doing just fine, thank you.
"I'm great, I really am," Paterno said. "I've had a lot of fun this spring. Absolutely no problems."
Instead the 82-year-old Hall of Famer watched Penn State's Blue-White scrimmage from the radio booth, his normal perch for the annual culmination of spring practice.
From high above, he watched his quarterback of the future - four-star prospect Kevin Newsome - throw the ball around before 76,500 fans, a record for the Penn State spring game.
There's nothing wrong with starter Daryll Clark, the all-Big Ten selection who helped lead the Nittany Lions' Spread HD offense to the Rose Bowl. Clark looked sharp in limited time, but he spent much of the sunny, warm afternoon on the sideline to guard against any needless injuries.
Spring scrimmages, after all, are simply glorified practices played in front of thousands of football-hungry fans eager to see the newest Nittany Lions. It's a time when Paterno can really dig into what he loves most about his job.
"This has been more of a fun offseason for me because I'm more involved. I don't have to ride on a golf cart," Paterno said before the game. "I'm out there pushing and shoving kids and the whole bit."
Of all his newcomers, perhaps no one is more important than Newsome, a freshman who enrolled in college in January. He and Clark are the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, so there's a presumption that Newsome will back up Clark this fall.
Newsome looked sharp and displayed a strong arm - throwing one ball under pressure more than 50 yards downfield. It landed out of bounds, beyond the reach of receiver Brett Brackett.
Newsome finished 9-for-13 for 94 yards and a touchdown. The White team that started the first-team defense beat the Blue team that started the first-string offense, 21-16.
"He's had his ups and downs as you can expect, but you got to remember he's still a high school senior," Paterno said about Newsome before the game. "He's obviously got long-term potential. Very strong arm. Can run."
Still, the learning curve is steep for any incoming freshman to pick up the nuances of college ball. Perhaps that's why Paterno has talked up the prospects of walk-on Matt McGloin, who already has a year in the system.
McGloin looked pretty good Saturday, finishing 9-for-13 for 111 yards and two scores and displaying some quick feet in the pocket.
"Joe [Paterno] has been telling you guys all offseason, you got to watch out for McGloin," said Jay Paterno, Joe's son. "Newsome would be '2' if we had to play tomorrow, and McGloin would be '2A.' But the only thing set in stone is that Daryll is No. 1." *