A year ago, the top concern among Penn State football fans was who was going to replace quarterback Daryll Clark.

We thought part of that answer would be shown at the 2010 spring game, where possible replacement Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin struggled, and true freshman Paul Jones had the best performance.

Yet, when the 2010 season started, neither of those players were on the field as true freshman Rob Bolden got the start at quarterback.

Given those happenings, how much should we make of anyone's performance when Penn State again plays its annual Blue-White spring game this Saturday?

If Bolden and McGloin play poorly and Jones plays well, are we to assume that Jones will start this fall for the Nittany Lions?

Probably not. A lot can happen in the six months between the spring game and the actual start of the football season. So, Saturday's scrimmage should only represent a couple things for Penn State fans.

For starters, don't look into someone's solid performance as an indication they'll be starting this fall. For example, if defensive back Chaz Powell, a Susquehannock grad, gets burned down the field and gives up a touchdown while talented sophomore cornerback Derrick Thomas gets an interception, it's still unlikely Thomas will be taking the starting spot from Powell when Indiana State visits Happy Valley on Sept. 3.

Next, treat the game like the minor leagues of Major League Baseball. Saturday represents a chance to watch younger guys who, for the most part, won't be starting in the fall, but could be starting a year down the road.


Take tailback Silas Redd, for instance. Last year, the 5-foot, 10-inch back was third on the depth chart behind Evan Royster and Stephfon Green.

Redd ended up running well in last year's spring game, which may have played a role in his significant playing time down the stretch during the 2010 season. However, he still wasn't the starter. But with Royster gone, Redd is now being considered for the starting job.

Finally, don't forget to enjoy watching JoePa roam the sidelines. With the 84-year-old heading into his 46th season with Penn State, he's also going into the final year of his three-year contract he signed after the 2008 season.

There's no telling what could happen to JoePa if Penn State finishes with a losing record and a few players get into trouble with the police.

JoePa himself isn't even sure on his future.

"Do I have a three-year extension? I don't even know what I got," Paterno joked at a press conference on April 1. "If you don't win some games, you won't have a future."

So, although it's highly unlikely, this could be the final time Paterno is head coach of Penn State during the spring game.

-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.