STATE COLLEGE -- Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is looking for separation soon in the three-man race for the starting quarterback job.
Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones have been alternating first-string reps with Penn State halfway through its 15-session spring practice period.
Seven practices remain after Wednesday, and spring drills conclude April 21 with the Blue-White game. It's hard to get all three candidates enough reps behind center, so O'Brien hopes one or two candidates distinguish themselves -- though he hasn't given a timetable.
"At the end of spring ball, I'm sure we'll have a better idea of which one or two guys will be the starter," O'Brien said Wednesday in a Big Ten coaches teleconference. "Hopefully over the next eight practices, a couple guys will separate themselves.
"Right now, there's no separation."
Penn State also announced Wednesday that O'Brien would embark on a nine-day, 18-stop bus tour to meet fans and alumni starting April 30 in Philadelphia. Basketball coach Patrick Chambers will join O'Brien on the road the first week.
Besides crisscrossing Pennsylvania, O'Brien also plans to visit areas out of state with concentrations of alumni including Washington, New York and northeastern Ohio.
O'Brien was hired in January to replace the late Joe Paterno, who was ousted in November after 46 seasons in the aftermath of child sexual abuse charges against a retired assistant coach. It was essential in his first year to meet as many alumni as possible, O'Brien said Tuesday in an interview after speaking at an Associated Press Sports Editors regional meeting in State College.
"How can I come into this job and close ranks without trying to get to know people, and get people to get to know me and how I see the football program," O'Brien said.
Paterno had gone on similar trips before alumni gatherings, though he scaled back on the frequency of such visits late in his career and didn't do such events at all the previous two offseasons. Paterno died in January at age 85 of lung cancer.