STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- It's a Bolden move for No. 19 Penn State .
Coach Joe Paterno tabbed freshman Robert Bolden the starter for the Nittany Lions' opener Saturday against Youngstown State.
In Paterno's 45 years as head coach, even this is a novelty.
A team spokesman said this is the first time Penn State will open the season with a true freshman as the starting quarterback. It's also the first start for a true freshman quarterback under Paterno for any game since Wally Richardson in 1992.
Bolden barely beat out returning sophomores Matt McGloin and Kevin Newsome, an impressive feat given that the touted freshman only joined the team this summer. All three quarterbacks still have a chance to earn the starting nod on a regular basis, Paterno said Wednesday night in a statement.
"Based on what we have seen to this point, Bolden has a slight edge right now, but we are confident all three quarterbacks are ready to go and hope to give them an opportunity to play until we settle on the one that gives us the best chance to win," Paterno said.
Paul Jones, another highly recruited freshman quarterback, will likely redshirt this season.
Paterno said Tuesday that at least two, and possibly all three quarterback candidates could play Saturday. Paterno called Bolden "1A" on the depth chart, with McGloin as "1B" and Newsome "1C."
For Saturday anyway, Bolden will be No. 1, just like his jersey number.
The four-star recruit from Orchard Lake, Mich., had been ranked the fourth-best quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com. The 6-foot-3 Bolden was 72 of 152 passing for 1,013 yards and seven touchdowns his senior year for St. Mary's Prep. He also ran for 535 yards and nine scores.
Bolden had more than 2,000 yards passing and 14 touchdowns and rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 16 scores in his final two high school seasons.
Wednesday's announcement temporarily ends what had been one of the biggest story lines of the summer in Happy Valley. It was such a tough decision for the coaching staff that Paterno decided to scrub naming a starter in advance of his regular Tuesday media availability, choosing instead to wait two more practices before making a decision.
"We're just as clueless as all you guys out there," receiver Derek Moye said Wednesday morning. "My mom just asked me the other day, I told her honestly, I had no clue."
Bolden will follow Daryll Clark, the two-year starter who set Penn State quarterback records guiding the "spread HD" offense. Newsome was the top backup last year as a freshman, while McGloin, a former walk-on, was the third-stringer.
"I don't think the offense will change at all. We'll go out there and stick to our game plan," Moye said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.