Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien confirmed at practice Wednesday that sophomore Paul Jones has left the team for personal reasons.
Jones, a high-profile quarterback recruit from Sto-Rox High School, never threw an official pass for Penn State. He did not play last season because of academic trouble. This season, he fell to third on the depth chart behind true freshman Steven Bench.
Jones was recently moved to tight end and appeared in his first college game two weeks ago against Navy. He also played the “F” tight end position last weekend against Temple. He caught one pass for seven yards against Navy and lost seven yards on a carry against the Owls.
“Just want to say thank you to everyone that has reached out to me offering their support,” Jones tweeted shortly after Wednesday’s announcement. “I really appreciate it.”
Later in the evening, Jones tweeted: “My dream is playing quarterback. And I’m going to chase it.”
Quarterback Matt McGloin said in a conference call with reporters before Wednesday’s practice that Jones didn’t attend Tuesday’s practice. McGloin said he was uncertain about Jones’ future with the team.
“I honestly have no idea,” McGloin said. “I know what you guys know. That he wasn’t at practice (Tuesday). I don’t know where he stands with the coaches or anything like that.
“He’s the type of kid that wants to contribute any way he can, whether it’s as a tight end or quarterback,” McGloin said. “It was really upsetting to see him make the decision. At the same time, he has to do what’s best for him. Whether he comes back or decides to leave, I wish him the best of luck.”
Jones is the 17th scholarship player to leave Penn State since March. He’s not eligible to transfer and play immediately at another school because he appeared in two games this season. But Jones could be eligible to play at another school in 2013 because of an NCAA transfer waiver that permits players to transfer within Division I without having to sit out a season.
He is the second former four-star quarterback recruit to leave the program in the past two months. Rob Bolden transferred to LSU shortly after this past summer’s announcement of NCAA sanctions against Penn State.
Jones and Bolden were part of a highly-regarded 2010 recruiting class. Only eight members of the class remain with the program.
Follow Guy Cipriano on Twitter @cdtguy.