In the way he thinks, the way he prepares for games and the way he carries himself, Matt McGloin has always been the starter.
Matt McGloin (right) wants to lead his team both in and out of the huddle this season.
But it is a little different, Penn State's senior quarterback admitted Thursday, officially being the No. 1 guy three months before the start of the season.
"Now that I've been named the starter I understand that I have to work more than ever to keep that spot," McGloin said. "I'm glad that (Bill O'Brien) announced it when he did and glad I'm in the position I'm in."
More than a few Penn State fans heard O'Brien's announcement one week ago that McGloin would be the starter and winced, images of McGloin struggling against elite opponents flashing through their heads.
"Completion percentage, getting us in and out of the right plays, getting us in to the right play, out of a bad play, knowledge of the offense, being prepared for meetings, cut down on his interceptions as spring ball went on, completed about 65 to 70 percent of his passes in the spring, ran some of our situational stuff pretty well," O'Brien said, rattling off each item in the list before asking: "Do you need me to keep going?"
O'Brien let reporters dangle for a bit, saying during the Coaches Caravan in early May that he would announce the starter by the end of the month, then doing so on the first day of June. The players knew well before that, though no one is saying exactly when.
"When I decided to make it," O'Brien said.
McGloin indicated that the quarterbacks were informed of the decision shortly after spring practice, when O'Brien met with all of his players individually to talk about their roles on the team. He then borrowed one of his new coach's favorite phrases: "What's said in that room stays in that room."
McGloin liked his chances even before that meeting, though.
"Around the 9th or 10th practice I kinda had the feeling that it was my job to lose," he said, "but at the same time, you never know. You always feel like these guys are playing just as good."
Since he came to Penn State as a walk-on, McGloin has always played as though he has something to prove. His name at the top of the depth chart -- without an OR next to it -- won't change that.
"I understand that Paul had a great spring, and he's right at my heels," McGloin said. "Coach O'Brien named me the starter. I think he believes in me, has trust in me, so now I need to work harder than ever to show him that he didn't make a mistake, that he can believe in me and that I can manage this offense."
McGloin will have time to prove to the coaches that he can run Penn State's new offense this August, when he'll get the bulk of the first-team reps. Until then, his focus will be on his other duties as a quarterback -- organizing workouts with receivers, setting an example in the weight room and making sure the other 10 guys in the huddle are on the same page when he takes his first snap as the starter.
"I think it's a little bit different letting the team know that there is a clear-cut starter here," he said. "But at the same time I'm still trying to earn their respect, their trust with summer workouts."
O'Brien's announcement was a big one for McGloin. The hope of the coach and the quarterback is that it was an important one for the rest of the team as well.
"No matter what team, a quarterback is going to be a leadership role," senior center Matt Stankiewitch said. "Knowing who the first quarterback is going to be definitely helps out."