Matt McGloin has been trying to shed the label of being a walk-on for years, but the Penn State quarterback finally has been given a reason to celebrate his humble beginnings.
McGloin on Monday was named the recipient of this year's Burlsworth Award in Springdale, Ark. The award is given annually to the top college football player who began his career without being on scholarship.
"It is great for the university," McGloin said. "To be honored as the top walk-on for this year's graduating class is a great honor. I wouldn't have been able to be here without the support of my family, teammates, coaches and fans. It's really because of those people that I am where I am today and am able to win such a prestigious award."
A starter since the middle of his sophomore season, McGloin finished as the Lions' career passing touchdown leader with 46. Playing for Bill O'Brien this season, the West Scranton product set single-season school records for passing yardage (3,266) and touchdowns (24).
McGloin threw at least one touchdown pass and reached the 200-yard mark in every game this season as the Lions went 8-4. Penn State ranked first in total offense and second in passing offense in the Big Ten in conference games.
In all, McGloin broke nine Nittany Lion passing marks.
Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs and San Jose State offensive tackle David Quessenberry were the other finalists for the award.
"Today took me back to the beginning of my career," McGloin said. "[This week] I looked back at what I have gone through and the journey that I have taken at Penn State and to be recognized for my accomplishments and the way that I got to Penn State is a true blessing. I am fortunate to be in the company of such great people that are involved with this award and to win such an amazing award today is just indescribable."
Lehigh was the only other Division I college to recruit McGloin heavily. Before heading to Penn State, he played at Mansion Park in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association East West All-Star Game, where he completed 6-of-12 passes for a game-best 78 yards in a contest called in the third quarter because of lightning.
"I know Penn State was always there, and they had my coaches talking to them a lot. So I wasn't going to turn that down," McGloin, coming from a family of self-professed Notre Dame fans, told the Mirror in the summer of 2008. "[My parents] were excited. They were going to be supportive no matter what my decision was. I think my parents' friends and stuff are more excited than my parents are, because we have a lot of Penn State friends."
Ironically, at the time, East coach Ed Gallagher described McGloin as a "very quiet and reserved." In his time at Penn State, he was thought of more as a fiery leader who wasn't afraid to speak his mind or let his emotions show.