Paul Jones finds himself in a new spot as Penn State players conduct voluntary seven-on-seven workouts.
He can zip passes knowing he has a chance of playing.
For this first time in his career, Jones, a sophomore from McKees Rocks, is academically eligible for the fall.
I cant wait, he said before last weeks Life For Life event. Thats what I came here to do, play in games. I think it will be fun. Jones hasnt
appeared in a game since Sto-Rox High Schools district playoff loss to Beaver Falls on Nov. 13, 2009. He will enter preseason practices, which begin Aug. 6, as the Nittany Lions No. 2 quarterback behind fifth-year senior Matt McGloin. Coach Bill OBrien named McGloin the starter last month. Rob Bolden, who started the past two season openers, will open camp as the No. 3 quarterback.
OBrien and Jones discussed the reason for the first-year coachs decision before the public announcement. Confidence is one reason OBrien selected McGloin over Jones.
Just be more sure of myself, Jones said of OBriens message. Sometimes Im too tough on myself. Im a perfectionist. I get mad when things dont go my way.
Beginning the season as a backup isnt what Jones envisioned. But being one snap away from playing beats many alternatives.
It is what it is, Jones said First second, last. ...It doesnt matter. I just have to do my best every day and see what happens.
Despite not playing the past two falls, Jones said hes prepared for game situations.
He participated in spring practices, splitting snaps with McGloin and Bolden as the trio learned OBriens offense. Jones ended the spring with a 6-for-15, 113-yard performance in the Blue-White Game.
I dont think Im that rusty, Jones said.
Besides the penalties and timeouts, practice isnt that much different when you are going against one of the best defenses in the country every single day.
Linebackers land on Butkus Watch List
Penn State senior linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges were named to the Butkus Award Watch List on Monday.
Mauti, who missed the final eight games last season because of a torn left ACL, and Hodges are both outside linebackers. Mauti has endured an injury-plagued career, collecting a career-high 67 tackles in 2010.
Hodges was named to the Bednarik Award Watch List last week. He had 106 tackles last season, including 10 for a loss.
The Butkus Award, named after former Illinois and NFL great Dick Butkus, is awarded to the nation's top linebacker. Former Penn State standouts LaVar Arrington (1999) and Paul Posluszny (2005) are previous winners of the award, which was instituted in 1985.
Fifty-one players are on this year's preseason watch list. Michigan State's Denicos Allen and Max Bullough, Wisconsin's Chris Borland, Ohio State's Etienne Sabino, Northwestern David Nwabuisi, Iowa's James Morris and Illinois' Jonathan Brown join Mauti and Hodges as Big Ten representatives on the list.
Senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill was also named to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List on Monday. The award honors college football's top lineman.
Hill, who had 59 tackles last season, landed on the Outland Trophy Award Watch List last week.
Recruiting class ranked No. 15
Penn States 2013 recruiting class moved to No. 15 on the Rivals.com rankings released Monday.
The class includes seven four-star and seven three-star prospects, according to the scouting service.
Penn State ranks third behind Michigan and Ohio State among Big Ten schools. USC has replaced Michigan as the nations top-ranked class.
The Nittany Lions received six oral commitments in June. The month ended with Central Dauphin linebacker Zayd Issahs commitment on June 29. Penn State hasnt landed a prospect this month.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy