QB depth becomes big concern for Lions

Penn State's quarterback competition between Robert Bolden and Matthew McGloin resumes around 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday as the team holds its first preseason practice.

But the focus has momentarily shifted from the quarterback race to a potentially major problem: quarterback depth.

Penn State suddenly has very little.

Junior Kevin Newsome reportedly has left the program and likely will seek a transfer. Newsome's departure comes days after Penn State coach Joe Paterno confirmed that redshirt freshman quarterback Paul Jones is academically ineligible.

Although Newsome's departure won't surprise many folks and Jones' academic issues had been out there for some time, the reality of having only two legit options at quarterback poses a challenge for the Lions. Both Newsome and Jones would have provided insurance behind Bolden and McGloin. The Lions now need junior Shane McGregor, a former walk-on, to step up his game in camp.

You can't blame Newsome for taking off. After falling behind both Bolden and McGloin on the depth chart, he nearly bolted after the 2010 regular season before returning for spring ball. Paterno has said the starting job almost certainly will go to Bolden and McGloin, who split starts in 2010. Newsome would have been third string, and the amount of youth Penn State has at quarterback reduced his chances to ever see significant playing time.

His departure makes it critical for Penn State to have both Bolden and McGloin available. Bolden, who sought his release after the Outback Bowl and was denied, said last month that he's committed to staying at Penn State. But what happens if McGloin wins the starting job? Would Bolden stick around? He had better, for Penn State's sake.

The potential for Bolden to depart -- however slim it may be -- likely has Nittany Nation a little nervous. The same holds true for an injury to Bolden or McGloin.

The good news is both men have starting experience in the Big Ten, and by most accounts, both men improved during the offseason.

While we'll be tracking Bolden versus McGloin in the coming days, Penn State needs both men to be on board when September rolls around.