Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After listing two possible starters at quarterback on Penn State's Week 1 depth chart, coach Joe Paterno made his decision and tabbed senior Daryll Clark to lead the Nittany Lions offense against Coastal Carolina. Clark had been expected to get the starting nod over sophomore Pat Devlin, mostly because of his experience last season as Anthony Morelli's backup.
The 6-2, 231-pound Clark turned in an impressive performance in the Alamo Bowl, helping rally Penn State to a win against Texas A&M. His combination of size and speed seems to fit Penn State's new offense, the Spread HD, but Paterno doesn't discount Clark's ability as a passer, which will be key as the Lions return three senior wide receivers.
"He's a good all-around quarterback," Paterno said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "People think he's a runner. He's a good thrower. Smart kid, good leader."
Paterno reiterated that both Devlin and third-stringer Paul Cianciolo remain in the mix and that more than one quarterback could see the field this fall. It will be interesting to see what happens to Devlin, a highly touted prep quarterback who reneged on a verbal commitment to Miami to play for his home state school. Clark is on pace to earn a fifth season of eligibility in 2009, while Devlin has three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Devlin still should see the field a decent amount this fall, and Paterno downplayed the belief that Clark's skills fit the offense better than the other candidates.
"The system's got to fit the quarterback," Paterno said. "You've got a quarterback and we have three, and you can't put a system in for one quarterback because he could go down halfway through the first quarter or the first game, so you put in something they all can do without being a strain."
Clark appeared in eight games last season, completing 6 of 9 passes for 31 yards. Though Paterno said he named a starter to prevent Clark from looking over his shoulder, the junior doesn't appear to lack any confidence and has the demeanor to command respect right away.
"They're all bright as can be, but I had to make a pick and Clark right now is the best of the three," Paterno said. "But the other two guys will be pushing."