The Penn State Nittany Lions return several starters from a team the finished 2012 with a successful record of 8-4. However, the quarterback position will be left to two guys who have yet to throw a pass at the major collegiate level. Junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and true freshman Christian Hackenberg will compete this summer to win the starting job.
The Nittany Lions entered spring practice with last year’s backup Steven Bench battling with Ferguson for the job. The thought was that the highly-touted Hackenberg would be given a redshirt to spend a year learning the system.
However, as practice wrapped up, Bench announced that he would be leaving the school.
That decision left head coach Bill O’Brien no choice but to put Hackenberg on the roster for 2013. The five-star recruit was the prize of Penn State’s 2013 class. He was rated as one of the top pocket passers in the country and is expected to put up big numbers in O’Brien’s NFL-style passing attack.
His arm strength is what makes him such a promising prospect and will be a huge asset to him at the college level. That arm was on display a lot during his last two years of high school. Over that span, he threw for 4,344 yards with 45 touchdowns. Penn State fans have to be excited about what Hackenberg can bring to the Nittany Lions over the next few seasons.
While Hackenberg is the more recognizable name, Ferguson seems to have a leg up in the quarterback competition. He enrolled at the school in January, meaning he’s had more time to familiarize himself with the playbook and the players around him. During the annual spring game, Ferguson threw for 90 yards with two touchdowns in limited action.
Last year while at College of the Sequoias, he looked impressive, throwing for 2,614 yards and 22 touchdowns. However, he did throw 12 interceptions. Coming out of junior college, he was rated as a 3-star recruit.
O’Brien will have a tough decision this summer when he must decide who wins the starting job. Hackenberg has the hype, while Ferguson is now the more experienced. Keep a close eye on this battle as the offseason continues.