October 4, 2012
Pat Devlin knows a little something about Pennsylvania prep passing records. He owned most of them by the time he finished his stellar high school career in 2005, becoming the first player in PIAA history to surpass the 8,000-yard milestone.
But for Devlin, currently the No. 3 quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, the passing stats were merely a sidenote to leading his Downingtown East squad to the state playoffs. The Cougars made it to the Class AAAA quarterfinals that year, finishing the season 11-2 as Devlin threw for 3,678 yards.
“To tell you the truth, I really didn’t think too much about it,” he told the Reporter Argus by phone following a recent Dolphins practice. “We had goals as a team that we were trying to reach, and all the personal records or whatever may be just didn’t really matter to me or the team at that time. It was all about just winning the games that we had ahead of us.
“It wasn’t like it was crazy or anything. You know, it wasn’t anything that we couldn’t handle as far as the media went. I don’t think the media really even talked about it that much – we were having a good season, and I think everyone was focusing more on the season than on the record.”
No Pennsy quarterback had ever thrown for more than 7,500 yards before Devlin’s senior year, and just four had managed to crack the 3,000-yard-season barrier. In contrast, there were five last season alone – led by Matt Bodamer’s 3,766-yard effort, which ranks third in state history – and in Week 4, Bodamer became the fourth player since 2008 to pass Devlin on the career yardage list.
“The spread working its way down into high school is the biggest thing,” said Devlin, who went on to play at Penn State before finishing his college career at Delaware. “From what I understand, we used it pretty early on when only a couple of schools used it, but it’s more prevalent now. You throw the ball a bunch of times, and it’s just fun to play in as an offensive player. Especially the quarterback – you have so many options, and it’s just fun. Sometimes the quarterback, a lot of stuff is in his hands, he can change plays and that sort of thing. So I just think it’s a fun offense to play in.
“It’s tough (to defend) in high school. The hashes are so wide, on the wide side of the field you have to cover a lot of space. I think the spread kind of helps out with that.”
So what advice does Devlin have for his counterparts in Port Allegany, as the Gators seek their own return trip to states?
“Set goals every week. Set something that you can strive for,” he said. “It’s great to have a goal like winning the state championship, but there are just a ton of little steps that you need to complete in order to get there. It sounds like they’re off to a good start already, but they just need to maintain their focus and keep working as the season progresses.”