I am not a fan of freshman quarterbacks being thrust into a starting role, especially at a place like Penn State where every action is met with great scrutiny. Heck, I don't even think rookie quarterbacks should start in the NFL except in the rare occasion when a player clearly has the ability to step in and lead the team from day one. Let the quarterback take a year or two to learn the offense, familiarize himself with a new level of play, and adjust to life as a college student. This long-held belief makes me feel very peculiar to make the following statement: Christian Hackenberg should be the starting quarterback in 2013.
Let's examine some of the evidence:
The Brain of BO'B A true freshman starting at quarterback is a somewhat-horrifying thought, but it helps to have the man who is quite possibly the best developer of quarterbacks in the nation by his side. No one who didn't wear number 11 for the Nittany Lions last year thought Matt McGloin was capable of the magnificent performance throughout the 2012 season. It will be interesting to see what O'Brien can do with a five-star quarterback who many believe is the top pocket-passer in his class.
The Tools to Succeed Remember Ben Roethlisberger's rookie season when he went 13-0 as a starter during the regular season? Steelers fans couldn't get to stores fast enough to buy a number 7 jersey to honor the town's new fan favorite. However, Roethlisberger was not the reason for the team's success. His job as a rookie was not to screw up, while benefiting from the best offensive line and rushing attack in the league, as well as a talented and experienced receiving corps. Hackenberg could be in a very similar situation should he find himself as the starter this fall. He'll have a talented and tenacious line to protect him, a 1,000-yard running back to keep pressure off of him, an embarrassment of riches at tight end, the best receiver in the Big Ten, as well as numerous other receivers who can make plays for any down and distance.
First Impression I wish I had more details or the opportunity to witness this with my own eyes, but a very trustworthy source texted me last week to tell me that Hackenberg was "just blowing away the coaching staff and his teammates." Reading between the lines, it sure sounded like O'Brien was going to give Hackenberg every opportunity to be the starter in 2013. He obviously had a high opinion of the QB phenom to mention him as a possible starter before he was even enrolled. That opinion now seems to be reaching a whole new level.
Maturity and Commitment Most 17-year-olds are just looking to fit in and do what they feel is expected of them. Hackenberg proved mature beyond his years for committing (and staying committed) to Penn State during its darkest days in school history. He easily could have went to any other program and play in bowl games immediately, be surrounded by a fully-stocked roster and not have to deal with the stigma of a major scandal. Instead, he decided that Penn State was the place where he wanted to be for the next four years and stood by his decision. That grit and determination will serve him well once he is leading the Penn State offense.
Turning Over a New Leaf The Number 14 is a storied jersey for Penn State quarterbacks. Todd Blackledge, John Shaffer and Chuck Fusina all reached great heights proudly wearing number 14. However, that number is now remembered for being synonymous with a certain quarterback who struggled mightily as a Nittany Lion. It's time for someone to restore the number to its former glory, so we can see all the #14 jerseys throughout Beaver Stadium next to the 31s and 22s.
More from Black Shoe Diaries:
- Only Devin Pryor Until Penn State Football
- Penn State, Virginia Tech To Play Home-and-Home Series in 2022 and 2023
- Women's Soccer: Lady Lions Ranked Fourth To Begin Season
- Recruiting Roundup (8.14.13)
- Penn State vs. Syracuse Tickets Available On Groupon
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