Penn State’s quarterback of the future does not arrive on campus for a few more weeks, but he already has his jersey number picked out.
According to a report yesterday by Sean Fitz of Lions 247, Christian Hackenberg will wear No. 14 at Penn State. PennLive’s Dustin Hockensmith later expanded on this news about the 5-star recruit’s jersey selection.
While the last prominent signal-caller to sport this number may have left a bad taste in the mouth of some Nittany Lion fans, the number at the quarterback position has a bit of history in Happy Valley. Here’s a look at some other quarterbacks who wore No. 14 for the Blue and White.
- Chuck Fusina — Fusina led the Nittany Lions to an 11-0 undefeated regular season in 1978 before falling to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He finished second in Heisman Trophy voting behind Oklahoma running back Billy Sims and had a brief NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers.
- Todd Blackledge — A three-year starter in Happy Valley, Blackledge’s college career culminated in him leading the Nittany Lions to a national championship in 1982, Joe Paterno’s first of two titles. During the 1982 season, he tossed 22 touchdown passes and took home the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the best quarterback in college football. After his Penn State career came to a close, Blackledge spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1980’s. He now works as a college football analyst for ESPN.
- John Shaffer — Shaffer quarterbacked Paterno’s squad to an undefeated 1986 season that ended with an upset win in the Fiesta Bowl over the heavily favored Miami Hurricanes to give Penn State its second national championship in five years.
- Wally Richardson — Richardson led Penn State to a 20-5 record between the 1995 and 1996 seasons as the Nittany Lions won the Outback and Fiesta Bowl respectively. Recently, he was named Director of the Football Letterman’s Club, a job that will begin in June.
- Anthony Morelli — A 5-star recruit from the Pittsburgh area, Nittany Lion fans had high hopes that Morelli would lead the Nittany Lions to another conference title in 2006 after All-Big Ten signal-caller Michael Robinson departed following an 11-1 2005 campaign. Morelli was surrounded with great offensive weapons and threw 30 touchdown passes over two seasons but was also responsible for 18 interceptions and often struggled in big games. While he led the Nittany Lions to consecutive 9-4 seasons and two bowl victories, many expected more.
That brings it to Hackenberg, who will be thrust into a quarterback competition with Tyler Ferguson when he gets to Happy Valley. The transfer of sophomore Steven Bench following spring practice reduced the battle from a three-horse race to two, increasing the chances that the 6-foot-4 212 pound signal-caller from Fork Union, Virginia could see the field as a true freshman.
Recently during the Penn State Coaches Caravan, Bill O’Brien said that Ferguson is “a little bit ahead” of Hackenberg, an understandable assessment after the junior college transfer had four months in the system and 14 spring practices along with the Blue-White game.
Throughout his high-school career, Hackenberg wore No. 1, currently occupied by running back Bill Belton. The highly touted recruit now inherits a number at a position that gave many generations of Penn State fans fond memories as he looks to carve out some of his own after sticking with the Nittany Lions through the NCAA sanctions.
Let’s see if he adds a “4” to the end of his Twitter handle.
Starting to pack my stuff up. State College bound in a few weeks.
— Christian Hackenberg (@chackenberg1) May 20, 2013