The 12-year-old grabbed the phone and made unsolicited calls featuring the same tone. Hey, meet me at the field.
Whats going on? Come on down to the field.
A half-dozen calls later, and young Matt McGloin had enough of his West Scranton peers assembled to run pass patterns.
Now a 22-year-old with a cellphone, McGloin is making similar calls peppered with a few text messages.
The fifth-year senior inherited summer leadership duties when Penn State coach Bill OBrien named him the starting quarterback earlier this month. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from running practices until August, which means on-field activities must be player-driven.
Those close to McGloin say hes built for the job.
It just comes naturally to him, said Mike DeAntona, who coached McGloins West Scranton High School football teams.
McGloin played football, basketball and baseball before arriving at Penn State. He forged close relationships with teammates in each sport, allowing him to organize summer pickup games and drills.
McGloin zinged passes to Hubie Graham whenever the duo had free time. Graham is now Pitts starting tight end. The former youth league and high school teammates still throw together when they are at home.
Their impromptu sessions started early, McGloins father, Paul, said.
A lot of times they would just
go down and throw on their own, Paul said. We lived a block from the West Side Falcons junior field. Hubie Graham was Matts primary target as a tight end. They would get a bunch of friends together. They just loved playing.
Such a competitor
DeAntona and West Scranton basketball coach Jack Lyons lauded McGloins leadership abilities.
DeAntona had enough confidence in McGloin to give him the starting quarterback job as a sophomore. McGloin edged out a senior to win the job. In his first varsity game, he tossed three touchdowns passes to lead the Invaders past perennial northeastern Pennsylvania power Lakeland.
McGloin never surrendered the spot, helping West Scranton to 26 wins in three years.
Graham, Penn State offensive lineman Eric Shrive and Maine linebacker Shawn Bodtman were some of McGloins high school teammates. McGloin led the group to a memorable comeback as a junior, orchestrating an 80-yard drive in the final 39 seconds of a District 2 playoff victory over Lakeland.
Going to the field in the summer, playing baseball, throwing the football and playing pickup baseball games developed leadership abilities and a competitiveness in Matty, DeAntona said. Thats Mattys biggest and best quality. Hes such a competitor. The more pressure on him, the better he performs.
Chemistry of a team
Lyons stuck McGloin in the starting lineup as a freshman, and McGloin didnt occupy an auxiliary role. He was the Invaders point guard, a complicated position that requires savvy.
The Invaders played man-to- man defense and McGloin often guarded opponents top scorers. Offensive responsibilities also were complex, with West Scrantons transition offense forcing him to make keen decisions.
McGloin quickly proved he could handle the job. His freshman season ended with West Scranton reaching the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 1970.
It was a very close-knit group of friends who played for us, Lyons said. They were all multiple-sport athletes. They stayed together for four years and thats why they were so successful.
Hes a kid that makes the chemistry of a team very, very strong. The kids around him look up to him as a leader. Thats how he got everybody involved in the sport, on and off the court.
We are moving on
At Penn State, McGloin faces a different situation.
His teammates arent childhood friends from the neighborhood. They are a group shaken by a coaching change and two straight seasons of weekly quarterback debates.
McGloin won the job this spring over sophomore Paul Jones. Rob Bolden, who shared first-team duties with McGloin the past two seasons is now the third-string quarterback.
The Nittany Lions are learning OBriens intricate pro-style offense, which includes various four-receiver sets. Eight different receivers and seven tight ends are listed on a preliminary depth chart OBrien released last week.
For now, the group is under McGloins watch.
You have to take control of the team, McGloin said. Now that theres a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, its up to you to go out there and get guys together and make some phone calls and say, Hey, we are going to be throwing at this time. You better be there. We are moving on. Either get on the train or get off the train.
Were going to get some guys together even on a Saturday afternoon if thats what it takes. We are going to do as much as we can to make sure we dont need to take a step back come camp time.
Hey man, lets go
McGloins summer direction might shape the Nittany Lions personality. He plans to push his teammates, a move designed to ensure everybody recognizes their value to the offense.
You dont yell at guys, he said. Its like, Hey man, lets go.
McGloin called knowing his role in June a relief.
DeAntona said OBriens decision to name a quarterback before preseason camp opens will allow McGloin to fully demonstrate his leadership abilities.
This is my opinion, but I do believe this is an advantage not only for Matty but for the Penn State offense, DeAntona said. Its very difficult to be looking over your shoulder and wondering where you stand.
Im not saying Im right or other people are wrong. But it was always my intuition to let kids know who the starters are, not only to help them on the practice field but to help them in their room at night when they are mentally preparing. I thought it was very important whether it was Matty or Paul Jones who got the job. But thats only coming from somebody who coached high school football at West Scranton.
A man who worked with Tom Brady the past three seasons agreed.
When you go into training camp, you have to make sure one guy is getting the bulk of the reps, said OBrien, the New England Patriots offensive coordinator last season and quarterbacks coach from 2009-10. You dont have time to give three guys equal reps.
In the summertime, without coaches around, you have to have leaders on both sides of the ball. Matt obviously being the quarterback is the leader on the offensive side of the ball.
Now is the time
As OBrien waits to resume working with his new team, McGloin will be on the phone.
The season and perhaps a year of quarterback harmony begins Sept. 1 against Ohio University.
Preparing for that game will be McGloins sole summer focus.
He earned a degree in broadcast journalism last month. McGloin is taking one class in the first summer session, but will be studying nothing but football film when the second summer session begins.
Now is the time where I can step in and assume a leadership role on this football team, he said.
McGloin is clutching his phone as he speaks.
His hands are bouncing. Its obvious hes ready to make a few calls.
He has all the intangible qualities to become a great success, Lyons said.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy