CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - What was perhaps the longest season in the promising career of Penn State freshman Paul Jones came in a year when he didn't take a single snap in a football game.
Jones, ranked last season as the No. 2 high school quarterback in the nation by Scout.com, enrolled in January and impressed in the Blue-White Game last spring with two touchdown passes. But he was informed by coach Joe Paterno before the start of the 2010 season that he would be redshirted.
Paterno had said Jones went through a bad start academically and that he was a "little nervous" about putting him through the football season. So the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Jones became the scout-team quarterback, emulating the styles of Nittany Lions opponents.
Jones said Thursday he was OK with Paterno's decision.
"He just told me I was going to redshirt," said Jones, who was part of the Penn State delegation at Outback Bowl Beach Day. "He just pulled me to the side and said, 'You're going to redshirt,' and I was like, 'All right.' "
Jones said he learned patience during the season as a result of "just maturing, I guess," and put his football energies into helping his teammates at practice.
"Every day was more like a game instead of just practice for me," he said, "because I had to give the defense a good look."
He said the experience helped him.
"I think I got bigger, stronger, and faster," he said. "I knocked the jitters out of the way. Playing against guys that are a lot older, you're practicing against one of the best defenses out there. So every day I've gotten pretty used to playing."
With Jones out of the picture, Paterno played three quarterbacks during 2010, beginning with freshman Rob Bolden as the starter and finishing with redshirt sophomore Matt McGloin at No. 1. The third QB, Kevin Newsome, played sparingly in six games and intends to transfer.
It's uncertain how the quarterback competition will be conducted in the spring, but Jones said he was not worrying about it. And he is staying around.
Nittany notes. Defensive end and Phillies fan Pete Massaro enjoyed practicing last week at the baseball team's spring-training facility. "The grass was really nice," the Marple Newtown High graduate said. "I felt pretty fast on the grass. It was a great facility. It was an honor for me to get to practice there. I've been a Phillies fan my whole life." . . . During his Christmas visit to his hometown of Scranton, McGloin had one answer for people asking him questions about Paterno's health and job status. "All I just said was, 'No, no, no,' just no to everything," he said. "None of it can possibly be true. We would hear something about that."