January 4, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Team Highlight quarterback Christian Hackenberg (1) drops out of the pocket during the second half at the Under Armour All-America high school Game at Tropicana Field. Team Highlight defeated the Team Nitro 16-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Victory Bell Roundtable-Who Will Start At Quarterback Versus Syracuse

By the time the next work week rolls around, fall camp will be open, and the quarterback competition will be in full swing.  With 29 days left until the Nittany Lions and Orange kickoff in MetLife Stadium, we ask the staff the question on every PSU fan’s mind,  who will be under center on PSU’s first series.

Lead Editor Matt de Bear (@PSUMatt2005)

If you posed this question to me 2 or 3 months ago, I would have answered emphatically with Tyler Ferguson.  But as time as gone along, and I talk to more people, I expect the freshman phenom Christian Hackenberg to take the first offensive snap for PSU on August 31st.  Tyler Ferguson has spent the last few weeks back home in California, understandably spending time with his family while his mother battles breast cancer.  During that time, Hackenberg has been the guy on 7 on 7 drills, and given what O’Brien expects from his offense this season, especially early in the year, he has seized the opportunity.  The first two weeks of camp will be intense for both QB candidates, but I honestly believe that O’Brien wants to get Hackenberg as many reps as he can this season, starting with opening day versus Syracuse.

Staff Writer Eric Sion (@ericbsion)

I expect Christian Hackenberg to start on August 31 against Syracuse. The quarterback competition is between him and Tyler Ferguson and even though Ferguson has at least some college football experience, Hackenberg is a superior quarterback in pretty much every aspect. Hackenberg has a high football IQ, has all the physical tools and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal on offense. We all expect Hackenberg to be a stud and an eventual NFL prospect while he’s in Happy Valley, but it might take some time. And that might include some growing pains in his freshman year in 2013. But I do think that Hackenberg will win the starting job during training camp and hopefully he’ll steadily improve during his four years until he becomes the player that we’re all expecting.

Staff Writer Barry Leonard Jr (@barryleonardjr)

The quarterback competition will surely be the most interesting thing to watch during practice in the coming weeks. When the Nittany Lions take the field on August 31 in New Jersey against Syracuse, I expect to see Tyler Ferguson getting the start under center.

There’s no doubt that true freshman Christian Hackenberg is a great talent with a ton of upside. That’s why he was so highly recruited. However, going from high school, even a prestigious prep school, to college is a big transition. The game speeds up and the talent level of the defense is greater.

Ferguson already has experience at a level above high school, having played one year in junior college. While that’s not the same as big-time college football, it’s still great experience. He has also had more time to work with the receivers and learn Bill O’Brien’s complicated offense.

Staff Writer Corey Hunter (@realhuntdog23)

This is the million dollar question isn’t it? Who is Head Coach Bill O’Brien going entrust with the “keys” to the Penn State offense on August 31? According to coach O’Brien Junior College transfer Tyler Ferguson has a slight lead over incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg.  While neither player has taken a regulation snap in an FBS game, Ferguson amassed over 2,600 passing yards and 26 TDs while playing last year as a freshman for the California Community College’s College of the Sequoias.  The much-balleyhooed addition of freshman phenom Christian Hackenberg to the Class of 2013 has given Nittany Lions fans optimism that the team will be lead through difficult times by a steady presence. Hackenberg was the top-rated quarterback in this past recruiting class. He’s a prototypical pocket passer who has a quick, strong release. As a senior at Fork Union Military Academy last year, Hackenberg threw for over 2,100 yards and 24 TDs. Most Penn State fans see his and fellow freshman Adam Brenneman’s commitment to the program as a sign that the Lions can emerge from the NCAA’s imposed sanctions a solid football team.  As for me, I truly believe you will see Christian Hackenberg as the starting quarterback for Syracuse. This is a gut feeling, but I think coach O’Brien feels a connection with this young man. This is someone he personally recruited, and he believes that he has the tools to run his pro-style offense. Certainly time will tell, but if I were placing a wager on the starting quarterback for Syracuse, I would go with freshman Christian Hackenberg.

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Tags: Christian Hackenberg Football Penn State Nittany Lions Tyler Ferguson

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