Penn State Football: Will Eligible Paul Jones Halt Pursuit for Danny O'Brien?

Kevin McGuire@KevinOnCFBAnalyst IIMarch 14, 2012

COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: Quarterback Danny O'Brien #5 of the Maryland Terrapins scrambles while being chased by defensive end Morkeith Brown #85 of the Temple Owls during the second half at Byrd Stadium on September 24, 2011 in College Park, Maryland. Temple defeated Maryland 38-7.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Danny O'Brien, the former Maryland Terrapins quarterback, is testing college football's version of the free-agency waters, and it has been confirmed that he has made contact with Penn State. Head coach Bill O'Brien, no relation, confirmed that the former ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year contacted Penn State about the possibility of playing his final two years of NCAA eligibility in State College.

According to multiple reports, there is no timeline for Danny O'Brien to make a decision on where he will play this fall. He is currently enrolled at Maryland and is expected to graduate this spring before following through with his transfer. O'Brien will be eligible to play immediately in 2012 at the FBS level as long as he enrolls in a graduate program not offered by Maryland.

Bill O'Brien's message to the team? "I told the team I'll do anything I can to improve the team within the rules," as quoted by's Ben Jones.

The question remains whether or not Penn State needs a quarterback in 2012 or 2013.

Bill O'Brien says sophomore quarterback Paul Jones is currently eligible according to NCAA and team requirements. Jones was ruled ineligible for the 2011 season due to failing to meet academic requirements. Jones will split the reps under center with Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin. Many feel Jones is the best quarterback on the roster and could have a legitimate shot to be named the starting quarterback for the fall with an impressive spring, Blue White Game and preseason camp.

Penn State will have those three quarterbacks under scholarship for 2012 and will add incoming freshman Steven Bench as well. The Nittany Lions already have class of 2013 prospect Christian Hackenberg on board with verbal commitment. Therefore, the depth at the position is not a concern, but if Penn State were to add O'Brien as another quarterback option it could have a dramatic impact on the expectations for the Nittany Lions this fall.

O'Brien is coming off a down season, a year after quickly becoming one of the top rising players in the ACC and many will put some of the blame, if not all of it, on new Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. Was it a mirage or a dose of reality for O'Brien?

O'Brien would like to join a program with an offensive style that fits his abilities. Bill O'Brien's system figures to fill that desire for the most part. Wisconsin set the bar in the Big Ten with a former ACC quarterback with Russell Wilson, from N.C. State, which is why some consider the Badgers a potential contender for O'Brien. But this is a different year with different circumstances in Madison, and for that matter in State College.

Wisconsin may not feel the need for a quarterback the way they did last season when Wilson was available, according to a recent No 2-Minute Warning podcast interview with Andy Coppens of Madtown Badgers. Wisconsin has a few more options under center to work out this spring and could have better options than they did last season before pursuing Wilson.

If you were Bill O'Brien, what would you do with the quarterback situation?


Kevin McGuire is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and the managing editor of Nittany Lions Den. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your Google+ circle.