He started as a promising quarterback recruit with a strong arm and ended as a redshirt sophomore playing tight end. However people remember it, though, Paul Jones’ journey as a Penn State football player is over.
Coach Bill O’Brien confirmed the news to reporters Wednesday before practice, saying Jones had left the team for personal reasons. Jones’ name has since been removed from Penn State’s official roster.
The 6-foot-3, 258-pound McKees Rocks native sent out a tweet shortly after O’Brien gave the official word of Jones’ departure from the team.
“Just want to say thank you to everyone that has reached out to me offering their support. I really appreciate it,” Jones wrote.
Jones played in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American bowl and was a highly sought-after quarterback recruit out of Sto-Rox High School. However, things never panned out for him at Penn State.
It wasn’t until this season that Jones saw the field, as he redshirted in the 2010 season, and was sidelined last season because of academic ineligibility. He competed for the starting quarterback spot in the spring, but Matt McGloin beat out both Jones and Rob Bolden.
Jones started the season as the No. 2 quarterback on the Nittany Lions’ depth chart, but by the second week of the season, he was jumped at the position by true freshman Steven Bench. The following week against Navy, Jones played in his first career game, but did so as a tight end.
O’Brien had Jones make the position switch just a few weeks into the season, and Jones made his first career catch — which went for seven yards — against the Midshipmen on Sept. 15.
Last Saturday against Temple, O’Brien showed a different look in with his offense as he had Jones line up in the backfield on the team’s second play from scrimmage. Jones received a handoff, but the play didn’t develop and he got tackled for a loss of seven. That carry would be the last time Jones touched the ball in a Penn State uniform.
Before leaving the team, Jones was listed as the Lions’ second-string “F” tight end and No. 3 quarterback on their most recent depth chart, which was released Tuesday.
Earlier on Wednesday, McGloin noted Jones was not at practice Tuesday and said at the time he was unsure about Jones’ status with the team.
“Whether he comes back or whether he decides to leave, I wish him the best of luck,” McGloin said.
Jones — whose only pass attempts as a Lion that show up in a box score are from the team’s Blue-White games — is the latest high-rated quarterback recruit whose days at Penn State didn’t yield long-term success.
He joins Bolden, who transferred to LSU in the summer after two up-and-down seasons in Happy Valley, and Kevin Newsome, who has landed at Temple after failing to win the starting job in 2010. All three signal callers were tabbed as four-star recruits out of high school.
Jones becomes the third Penn State player to leave the team since the start of the regular season. The other two are wide receiver Shawney Kersey and kicker/punter Matt Marcincin.
Because of the NCAA’s rules for Penn State players, Jones cannot transfer and be eligible this season since he played for Penn State. But he can transfer anywhere and play right away next season without penalty. And wherever he goes, he wants to be behind center.
“My dream is playing quarterback. And I'm going to chase it,” Jones tweeted Wednesday night.
With the loss of Jones, Penn State is left with four quarterbacks (McGloin, Bench, Shane McGregor and Garrett Venuto) on its roster.
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