From Walk-On To NFL, Oakland Raiders QB Matt McGloin Beating All The Odds

By Zach Morrison
Matt McGloin
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Matt McGloin isn’t afraid of a little competition on the football field. McGloin grew up in a blue-collar town in Pennsylvania called Scranton. He was an all-state quarterback but received little interest from college programs. He would eventually become a walk-on at Penn State University to play for Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions.

McGloin would not see the field at all during his freshman season of college, but he got his first opportunity as a sophomore against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Starting quarterback and four-star recruit Rob Bolden would suffer a concussion during the game and the second string quarterback, Kevin Newsome, was under the weather, so the Nittany Lions had to turn to little-known walk-on McGloin. In his collegiate debut, he would complete six of his 13 pass attempts for 76 yards and two touchdowns. He would continue to play quarterback for the Nittany Lions for the remainder of 2010, and Bolden was never able to live up to his four-star status he was given in high school. McGloin was able to lead the Nittany Lions to the Outback Bowl in 2010 where they would face the Florida Gators. That game didn’t go well for the walk-on quarterback from Pennsylvania as he threw five interceptions and the Nittany Lions lost.

2011 would be a program-changing season for McGloin and the Nittany Lions. The Jerry Sandusky scandal surrounded the program for the second half of the season, and McGloin had to find a way to keep winning despite a coaching change and never-ending distractions from the media. He would only start five regular season games in 2011; he went 3-2.

2012 was the true turning point for McGloin’s football career. First-year head coach Bill O’Brien took over the Nittany Lions’ program with the perception of being a quarterback guru. McGloin quickly became a completely different quarterback — different in a good way. In his senior season, under coach O’Brien, he would throw for 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. McGloin threw for 3,271 yards on the season as well.

Despite his great senior season of college, McGloin went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. He eventually found his way onto the Oakland Raiders‘ roster as an undrafted free agent. He was originally the fourth-string quarterback, behind Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn and fellow rookie Tyler Wilson.

He impressed the Raiders’ coaching staff in the preseason and eventually passed Wilson on the depth chart. After just five weeks, McGloin already finds himself as the primary backup to Pryor, the starting quarterback. Now McGloin is just one Pryor injury away from getting his first regular season action in the NFL and beating all the odds yet again.

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