A hometown hero’s welcome

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First Posted: 2/24/2014

Matt McGloin has shown what he can do with the slightest chance on the football field.

He followed up one unlikely story with another.

The West Scranton graduate arrived at Penn State as a walk-on and left as a record-setting starting quarterback. The success at Penn State landed McGloin another shot to prove himself as an undersized, undrafted free agent with the Oakland Raiders where he again won a starting spot as a National Football League rookie.

Now, McGloin is showing what he can do with an opportunity off the field. Making the most of the fame gained from his story as the consummate overachieving underdog, McGloin is doing what he can to help children during his offseason time at home.

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeast Pennsylvania will present two events at St. Mary’s Center in Scranton Saturday, March 1. “Tailgate for Kids” is scheduled from noon to 3 p.m. when, for a $10 donation, children accompanied by an adult can enjoy games and meet McGloin and other NFL and Penn State players for autographs and pictures. A private reception, for $100, at 7 p.m. will include an open bar and buffet with McGloin and friends to raise funds for CAC/NEPA, a private, nonprofit, charitable organization which assesses and treats child/teen victims of abuse and neglect.

Matt, 24, credits his father, Paul McGloin, a Scranton florist, with introducing him to the Children’s Advocacy Center and the importance of giving back to the community.

“My father is very involved in a lot of community things, involved in politics and a lot of events like this,” Matt said. “The Children’s Advocacy Center was brought to my attention by him. I learned a lot about it. I love to give back to the community, and any time there’s kids involved, … for me to be able to help out anyone I can, I’m happy to do it.

“Fortunately, my position in life allows me to help other kids, charities, and events and, fortunately, at the Children’s Advocacy Center, we had a very successful year.”

Among the football players the youngsters can meet is McGloin, who has made a name for himself by never being discouraged by having to prove himself in comparison to those who were sought after more highly.

Also playing basketball and baseball in high school, he threw for 5,845 yards and 58 touchdowns while at West Scranton, where he led the Invaders to two District 2 Class AAA championships and a berth in the 2007 state quarterfinals. Although he had interest from Division I recruiters, McGloin lacked a scholarship from a major school when he instead decided to try to make the Penn State roster as a walk-on.

After earning a scholarship, McGloin became the only former walk-on to start at quarterback for Penn State since scholarships were reinstated in 1949.

Each time McGloin appeared to have reached the pinnacle of his climb, he added a new accomplishment. With Penn State’s program hampered by sanctions in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, McGloin was one of the keys to keeping the program competitive, leading the Big Ten in completions and touchdown passes as a senior captain in 2012.

McGloin set Penn State records for career touchdown passes (46), completions in a season (270), and passing yards in a season (3,271).

Small by NFL standards at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, and not known for having the strongest throwing arm, McGloin still was not finished. He earned a training camp spot with the Raiders, outperformed drafted players, and began climbing the depth chart even faster than his surprising rise at Penn State.

“The difference between walking in as an undrafted quarterback in the NFL and being a preferred walk-on in college is that in the NFL, the best player will make the team; the best player will play,” McGloin said. “In a lot of cases, that’s not the way it is in college. The kid that they recruited and the scholarship guy get pretty much every possible opportunity to be the starter and get more reps than you.

“In the NFL, they don’t care if you were drafted in the first round or not drafted at all.”

The combination of self-confidence, a willingness to study the mental side of football, and a tireless work ethic put McGloin back in control of an offense.

McGloin made his NFL debut Nov. 3 for the Raiders against the Philadelphia Eagles. He started two weeks later and, in dramatic fashion, threw three touchdown passes in a 28-23 win over the Houston Texans.

“I always kind of believed that it would happen if I just kind of took the same approach that I’ve taken for my whole career,” said McGloin, who hit 55.9 percent of his passes for 1,547 yards and eight touchdowns with eight interceptions in seven games, including six starts. “To be early; to understand the playbook, understand my progressions, my reads; and outwork the guy next to me in the film room, on the practice field, and in the weight room.

“Control the things you can control. I just made the most of my opportunities.”

More competition could be on the horizon as the Raiders at least consider drafting a quarterback while trying to find a way to improve from back-to-back 4-12 seasons. McGloin is ready for the challenge.

“I can’t control who they bring in, who they don’t bring in,” McGloin said. “My job is to know what I’m doing, show up every day, and continue to get better.”

Before long, McGloin will be back in Oakland for offseason workouts, conditioning and more studying of the complex job of NFL quarterback.

Two weeks in Scranton gave local fans a chance to show their appreciation for McGloin and vice versa.

McGloin was honored Feb. 20 with a Community Salute that also served as a fundraiser for the Scranton Kiwanis Club. The CAC/NEPA will benefit from his presence this weekend in the repeat of an event he first took part in last year between the completion of his college and the start of his professional career.

“We are so excited that Matt is coming back to support us, but now as an NFL quarterback,” CAC Executive Director Mary Ann LaPorta said in a press release. “We are proud of our hometown hero, and this is the perfect opportunity for the public to meet Matt and to see what he is about.

“From the first day Matt visited our center, he wanted to know how he could help, and since then he has been a great supporter of the CAC and an advocate for the children of our region.”

More on the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the CAC/NEPA is the designated child abuse intervention center for Lackawanna County and also provides Forensic Medical Assessments and Forensic Interviews for cases referred from Monroe, Wayne, Carbon, Susquehanna, Luzerne, Pike, and Wyoming counties.

It coordinates a multidisciplinary team response to each case of child abuse, acting as the neutral agent for child/teen victims of abuse and the contact point for treating, tracking, and referral to resources needed, including District Attorneys, law enforcement, and Child Protective Services.

• Since opening its doors in 1998, the CAC/NEPA has helped more than 9,500 children and adolescents.

• Since 2004, there has been a 210 percent increase in the number of children seen at CAC/NEPA.

• In 2013, the CAC/NEPA provided forensic interviews, medical assessments, trauma therapy, and child advocacy services to 1,411 children and adolescents.

• In 2013, the CAC/NEPA provided training and education to 1,200 adults and children in communities throughout NEPA. In addition, nearly 200 medical professionals received advanced training on child abuse symptoms and reporting requirements.

All services are provided free-of-charge. More information can be found at cacnepa.org.