Clark eyeing Penn State QB job

Ursuline graduate Daryll Clark backed up Anthony Morelli for two seasons.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Forget, for a moment, the peripheral issues hovering over Penn State football. Joe Paterno has plenty enough to worry about on the field as spring practice kicks off this week.

Among the top questions for the Nittany Lions as they begin preparing for 2008 is at quarterback, where Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin will compete to start.

Clark, an Ursuline High graduate, was the primary backup the last two years to Anthony Morelli. Devlin rarely saw the field last season as a third-stringer, though the Downingtown East graduate could bear watching given his credentials as Pennsylvania’s high school cingareer passing leader.

Coaches have said they might spice up the offense this year and use more of a spread-style attack similar to the one used successfully in 2005 with Michael Robinson at the controls. If that’s the case, the athletic Clark, who had 50 rushing yards and a touchdown in the Alamto Bowl win over Texas A M, might hold the advantage.

Whoever takes over should have the benefit of having all five offensive line starters returning, as well as the standout receiving trio of Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood.

Leading rusher Rodney Kinlaw is gone, as is drop-back passer Morelli, who compiled gaudy statistics and two bowl victories in his career but struggled at times in the clutch. Morelli didn’t endear himself to Penn State’s rabid fan base, either.

Other areas likely to draw attention this spring:

UDefensive line.

Injuries and suspensions whittled down depth as 2007 wore on, though there is considerable talent at the position led by end Maurice Evans (12.5 sacks in ’07). Tackle Jared Odrick (ankle) and end Jerome Hayes (knee) are recovering from serious injuries, as is promising end Devon Still, whose freshman year was cut short after he suffered a knee injury in preseason drills.

Tackles Chris Baker and Phil Taylor, charged by police for taking part in a fight last year, remain suspended from the team. A return by any of those players to the field could boost the defense.


Dan Connor, the Bednarik Award winner for college football’s best defensive player, is off to the NFL. Sean Lee (138 tackles) figures to step in ably as Linebacker U’s next headliner, though will he stay on the outside or move inside like predecessors Connor and Paul Posluszny?

After veteran Tyrell Sales, there are young, but promising players to choose from to fill the rest of the starting corps. A youngster to watch might be Chris Colasanti, who worked his way up the depth chart by the end of his freshman campaign to become Connor’s backup.

URunning back.

With Kinlaw gone, Evan Royster (518 yards, 5 TDs) has an edge for the top tailback spot. Royster displayed toughness between the tackles as a redshirt freshman but got nicked by injuries.

The Blue-White game caps spring practice April 19, when fans may get their first look at Stephfon Green, a running back who redshirted last year. Teammates last season raved about his speed, and, with a good spring, Green could complement Royster’s style well.

All these questions may take a backseat to any developments about Paterno’s future.

This fall will be Paterno’s 43rd as head coach, and he is entering the last year of his contract. The situation wasn’t publicly addressed during university trustee meetings last week, and athletic director Tim Curley has said there is no timetable to make any decisions.