Paul Jones has waited more than two-and-a-half years.
According to coach Bill O’Brien, the redshirt sophomore will finally see the field Saturday against Navy. However, it likely won’t be in the position he came to Penn State to play.
After true freshman Steven Bench entered the game for an injured Matt McGloin in Penn State’s 17-16 loss to Virginia, it confirmed that Jones had fallen to No. 3 on the depth chart at the quarterback position. But given Jones’ 6-foot-3, 258-pound stature, O’Brien decided to play him at the F tight end.
“We feel like right now the best thing for us to do with him is to try him at this F position,” O’Brien said. “Now, the F position is not really a true tight end. It’s somebody that can play out wide as a wide receiver. It’s somebody that can play in a wing position in the formation. It’s somebody that’s a move guy, somebody that can line up in the back field.”
Jones’ newfound versatility will give Penn State’s offense some extra options. He will be a tough guy to tackle when he’s in motion with the football, and he could give the Nittany Lions both passing and rushing options in the backfield.
O’Brien said Jones has a package of plays at quarterback, too, so he will find a way to get him in the game.
“Paul and I have a very good relationship, very honest relationship,” O’Brien said. “We’ve had a lot of discussions about his role on the team. He’s a 260-pound guy that is athletic and loves to play football.”
Jones was rated the No. 2 prep high school quarterback in the nation before he came to Penn State. He redshirted his first season with the team in 2010, and he was academically ineligible in 2011.
Jones was in a quarterback battle with McGloin entering the summer. O’Brien named McGloin the starter in June, and he also confirmed Jones would be the No. 2 guy.
Heading into the Lions’ opener against Ohio, Jones’ status took another hit as the depth chart listed him in a position battle with Bench for the title of backup. Bench established himself over Jones against Virginia.
Still, Jones’ teammates said they think he could succeed anywhere on the field. Linebacker Glenn Carson added that he’s been focusing more on his own play than Jones’, but he’s confident Jones will be able to contribute.
“Paul’s an unbelievable athlete,” Carson said. “I think you can put him on a lot of places on the field, and through pure athleticism alone, he’s going to be able to make plays and help us out.”
Guard John Urschel said it’s only beneficial that Jones will line up with the first team offense Saturday.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Urschel said. “Paul is a very talented athlete. Matt [McGloin] is obviously our starting quarterback, so it’s good that we can use him somehow and try to get him to contribute to our football team.”
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