Aside from the offensive line, no other position on the team during the James Franklin era has been as scrutizined as the quarterback position. To absolutely nobody's surprise, Christian Hackenberg decided to forego his senior season in Happy Valley despite a couple of rough seasons following a stellar freshman campaign. I am not here however, to re-hash Hack's performances but rather, to look ahead to one of the most important quarterback derbies in recent Penn State football history. Whoever is eventually named the starter will be tasked with carrying the torch in Joe Moorhead's newly installed up-tempo spread offense and while they will have to deal with a still shaky (at best) offensive line, they will have at their disposal, a plethora of weapons at wide receiver and running back with whom to deliver the rock. Suffice it to say that the quarterbacks will be the most closely watched group at this Saturday's Blue-White game.
Trace or Tommy (or Jake)?
While it is highly unlikely that a starter will be named before August training camp, it is presumed that Trace McSorley is the frontrunner at the moment. What the 6-foot McSorley may lack in size and arm strength, he more than makes up for with his scrambling abilities, leadership (McSorley led his high school's football team to four straight state championships) and straight-up moxie. Right on Trace's tail however, is Tommy Stevens, the 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman who has some scrambling abilities to go with his solid throwing arm. Not to be discounted is Jake Zembiec, a true freshman and early enrollee who was named the "Gatorade State Player of The Year" in New York last Fall. While Zembiec certainly has the physical tools to compete for the starting position, the likelihood that he will be able to leap past both Tommy and Trace after merely several months in the program is rather slim and a redshirt ultimately appears to be in the cards for him.
If Zembiec ends up redshirting this season, then Billy Fessler will become the team's third string quarterback. While he will only end up seeing game action in garbage time of a blowout win or in the event of a quarterback catastrophe (please, based football god, don't let this happen), Billy will play a critical role on the practice squad.