All week long you, the reader, have been subjected to some of my colleagues attempting to convince you that this position or that position other than quarterback is the best. Well, now it's my turn to remind you that yes, while that D-line will be fueled by a dynamic duo, Linebacker-U will continue to live up to its name, the receivers are a promising young bunch, and tight end is a deep position, the truly strongest position is actually at the quarterback spot. Here's a few reasons why:
Christian Hackenberg (Duh.)
It was easy to forget while watching him run for his life, take a boatload of sacks, and throw more interceptions than touchdowns last season behind the greenest offensive line in modern program history, but Christian Hackenberg truly is a one-of-a-kind talent. His arm strength (the zip he puts on his throws allows him to make passes which your average quarterback would struggle with look like someone playing an arcade football pop-a-shot) and field vision were the reasons behind him being rated a five-star talent and the best QB in the 2013 high school class by the recruiting services. We were reminded of this talent during the Pinstripe Bowl, when Hack finally got more than a split-second to scan the field and hit his targets in stride to the tune of 371 yards and four touchdowns. It is also the reason why NFL mock drafts have him pegged as high as in the top five for the 2016 draft.
I know I'm beating a dead horse by saying that Hack has had to mature rather quickly over these last few years, from staying committed to the program after the sanctions hammer came down to being named the starter right before his first game wearing a Penn State uniform, to dealing with the adversity of 2014, he has dealt with quite a bit. With all of his top receiving targets coming back and with what should be an improved offensive line (relative to last season, at least), 2015 should be the year where you're reminded why you ogled over Hack to begin with.
Those Backups Ain't Too Shabby, Either
For over the past year, we have heard about how redshirt freshman Trace McSorley had been turning heads in practice with his running ability (making him a 'true' dual-threat as some like to say) and natural leadership (i.e. moxie). While he would have played last year had the worst case scenario occurred and Hack gotten seriously injured, James Franklin made the decision to keep him redshirted.
There were times last season when Hack looked frustrated and broken by the countless hurries and sacks he had suffered to the point where fans wondered if it would be best for a guy like McSorley to come in provide a spark to a listless offense and change things up to the point where the opponent would be caught off-guard by this tiny 6-foot 195-pound scrambler. Now that he's available for playing time, should Hack be stuck in a rut, or if the staff wants to throw an unexpected wrinkle at the opponent (kind of like how former backup QB Michael Robinson was used in the 2002 primetime shellacking of Nebraska), don't be surprised if you see ol' Trace getting some game action.
Also fighting for the #2 spot on the depth chart is true freshman Tommy Stevens. The 6'4" 197-pound early enrollee got a chance to see some action in the Blue-White Game, where he made some good throws but also the typical freshman mistakes. While the odds of him seeing any action beyond garbage time this year are slimmer than Keith Olbermann ordering a Peachy Paterno at the Creamery, watching Hack from the sidelines and getting a head start in Dwight Galt's strength and condition program could pay him dividends down the line.
Just in case you needed a friendly reminder.