Yet again, Matt McGloin finds himself as the last man standing. After all the odds against him since as far back as he can remember, he just keeps rising to the top somehow. Now, he's poised to start his first NFL game for the Raiders this weekend when the team faces the Houston Texans.
He came to the Raiders as a tryout. It wasn't even his first tryout. He had tried out for the Panthers and didn't make the team. The Raiders had already signed undrafted free agent Kyle Padron, but since he had to finish his college studies at Eastern Washington the team needed someone to fill in for him until he was ready.
Enter Matt McGloin.
He tried out for the team and was signed. Pretty soon the Raiders were so impressed that they decided they liked McGloin better than the guy they had signed and just went with McGloin instead. Even then, he was not considered to be a threat to do anything but give the fourth team offense reps.
"When he first got here, he was a camp arm," said Dennis Allen. "He's just gone about his business on a day to day basis and never really let anything affect him. Early on he wasn't getting a whole lot of reps and he just kept working his way up."
Entering training camp, he was stuck behind every quarterback on the roster. The team had acquired Matt Flynn in trade, had holdover Terrelle Pryor competing with him, and fourth round pick Tyler Wilson as the next guy. Then there was McGloin. Getting typically one snap at the end of team sessions and sometimes none.
Soon the coaches had seen enough of Tyler Wilson and moved McGloin ahead of him on the depth chart. McGloin didn't let go of that spot and when the final roster cuts came about, it was McGloin, not Wilson who was on it.
Come week four, Matt Flynn came in for the injured Terrelle Pryor to start. Flynn was terrible and his attitude in the week following the game made the decision to cut him the team's only choice. Suddenly McGloin was the primary backup.
Now Terrelle Pryor has an injured knee and McGloin is literally the last man standing. His attitude has always been that of confidence and a chip on his shoulder. The exact attitude the new regime has coveted in their choices of players.
"He just has a little bit of that ‘it' factor about playing the quarterback position," said Allen. "He's got a lot of confidence in himself and we've got a lot of confidence in him."
And ‘It' factor seems like the appropriate term. He doesn't wow you with his physical attributes (6-1, 210 pounds, 4.89 40-yard dash) but when given the chance, he just seems to get the job done. And his record breaking numbers during his senior season at Penn State bear this out.
McGloin told me in an exclusive interview last June about his journey.
"I kinda have been through it all," McGloin said. "At Penn State I was kind of in a tough situation there early on where I was just really overlooked because I wasn't a four or five star recruit even though I was better than the kids they brought in. They'd start one kid and then bring me in the play the rest of game. So, it was tough on you mentally but I just continued working and outwork and compete against those guys and once coach [Bill] O'Brien came in and named me the starter immediately after spring practice, the other guys transferred and we ended up having a phenomenal year. It does take a toll on you mentally with all the competition and things like that but once I was able to start and get a full summer under my belt and learning the offense and becoming a leader, I think that had a lot to do our success offensively."
"It's just the hand I was dealt. I've always been good with it, I'm a mentally tough person and I keep pushing and keep fighting and I've always gotten my opportunity and I'm happy with the way I finished at Penn State and I'm really happy Oakland gave me an opportunity here so it wouldn't be fair if I didn't give them everything I had every day."
"Well, certainly [Penn State] faced some challenges his senior year there," said Dennis Allen. "He's seen some things, some adversity that he had to overcome as a football team. So, I think that's probably helped him as far as his leadership ability and how to overcome adversity. . . He's a good character kid, both football character and off field character and I think he's prepared if he's called on to go."
His teammates have rallied around him as the quarterback this week as well. According to Reece, McGloin literally beats himself up.
"Matt McGloin is a fighter," Reece told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's hard to get down on that kid. He gets down on himself harder than anyone. He slaps himself in the head when he makes a mistake at practice."
He will need to be a fighter to try and pull out the win for the Raiders this weekend. They have lost three of their last four games with the offensive line struggling so he will have to face a fierce rush from the Texans and the reigning defensive player of the year, J.J. Watt. Welcome to the NFL, kid.