A brief look at the quarterback position for the Nittany Lions heading into 2013, and beyond.
A way-too-early position preview series; included are scholarship and verbally committed Class of 2013 players, while run-on players have been left out of the previews.
Warm Bodies: Steven Bench (Soph.), Tyler Ferguson (Soph.), Christian Hackenberg (Fresh.)
Outlook: Losing a record-breaking quarterback like Matt McGloin (!) is going to be tough for the Lions, as the three quarterbacks looking to replace McGloin have a combined 8 pass attempts in Division 1. Each of the throwers, though, bring some upside, and the race to see who is selected is going to be fun to watch.
Bench has the advantage of having a year with the team under his belt, which includes bonding with current players, learning from the coaching staff, and most importantly, understanding the playbook. Bench watched as Bill O'Brien transformed McGloin into a relatively prolific passer, so he knows what schemes and plays he will need to pick up quickly. In 2012, Bench saw some limited action in two games, combining to go 2-for-8 for 12 yards passing, and even picked up 18 yards on the ground.
Ferguson was an underrated Class of 2012 recruit, and spent the 2012 season at The College of the Sequoias in California, throwing for 2600+ yards and 26 touchdowns against JUCO competition. He is the most experienced of the three, but the competition will be markedly different in the Big Ten compared to the JUCO defenses Ferguson is used to facing. Ferguson will enroll at Penn State during the spring semester, so he will get an extra few months to get up to speed and challenge Bench for the starting spot.
Hackenberg is the most highly touted of the three, coming out of Fork Union Military Academy as a four-/five-star quarterback. Many people hope that he, along with some of the good friends he has made in the Class of 2013 recruiting class, can be the future of the Penn State program, but certainly Bench and Ferguson will have something to say about that. Hackenberg has stated a desire to redshirt in 2013 in order to learn the playbook and the style of play that O'Brien wants out of his quarterback. Assuming this is the case, Hackenberg will have slightly more separation from the other quarterbacks, and can push for his spot in 2014 (which would likely also allow the staff to avoid taking a quarterback in a scholarship-thin Class of 2014).
Projected 2013 Depth Chart: 1) Ferguson 2) Bench 3) Hackenberg
Names to Watch: Provided something drastically awful doesn't happen with Hackenberg's commitment (looking your way, Vidal Hazelton), there won't be any additional quarterbacks taken with the few remaining spots in the Class of 2013. And like was stated above, if Hackenberg does in fact redshirt, and possibly even if he doesn't, the staff likely won't take a signal caller in 2014. But here are a couple of names to keep an eye on as potential targets for the Lions in 2014: Clayton Thorson (Wheaton North HS (Wheaton, IL)), DeShone Kizer (Central Catholic HS (Toledo, OH)), Andrew Ford (Cedar Cliff HS (Camp Hill, PA))
QB - RB/FB - WR - TE - OL - DT - DE - LB - DB - ST
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