PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Bench’s Transfer Increases Hackenberg’s Importance for 2013

Without doing anything directly, Christian Hackenberg just became much more important to Penn State as the Nittany Lions prepare for the 2013 season.

The 5-star quarterback from Fork Union, Virginia will not arrive on campus until June and will not practice under the tutelage of Bill O’Brien until August, but could find himself receiving the first offensive snap of the season from center Ty Howle on the final day of that month.

That, however, is not necessarily the main story stemming from Steven Bench’s announced decision to transfer yesterday. After all, the message from O’Brien, throughout the spring was that Hackenberg was always going to have an opportunity to compete for the starting job.

“We will integrate him right in there,” said O’Brien of Hackenberg following Saturday’s Blue-White game. “It is very difficult to get three quarterbacks reps during training camp, so we will have to evaluate that over the next couple of months, how we are going to do that, if we are going to do that.”

Hackenberg’s status is as undefined as it was yesterday, but his role and that first week of practice is even more essential. The best and worst things that could be said for Bench and Tyler Ferguson is that they did not do much throughout the spring to prove why they should win the starting job, but they also didn’t do much to show that they couldn’t handle it.

The two of them together gave O’Brien options. With both in the fold, the Nittany Lion head coach could have easily decided to continue the two-way competition through August and redshirt Hackenberg, giving him a year to learn the offense and an extra bowl game.

Now, giving Hackenberg a redshirt season seemingly becomes a bit more difficult and a bit less likely. When August rolls around, O’Brien could still decide that Ferguson is his guy, but if the junior college transfer from California is ineffective early on or suffers an injury, the only backup options would be walk-ons D.J. Crook, Austin Whipple, and Jack Seymour. Seymour is not on campus until the summer. Crook and Whipple have only been here since January, did not take any first-team reps all spring, and — while the sample size is small — combined to go an abysmal 3-for-10 for 11 yards and two interceptions in Saturday’s scrimmage.

A unit that returns three starters on the offensive line and is loaded with playmakers at the skill positions could quickly be derailed without a competent signal-caller and having Hackenberg carrying a clipboard on the sidelines will not help.

O’Brien made the calculated decision to choose upside over the candidate who had been in the system for a season. It leaves him with one less option and devoid of any who have ever spent a fall season in major college football. In an ironic twist, Hackenberg has the longest relationship with O’Brien despite having yet to participate in a formal practice.

“I don’t think it’s easy for any of the quarterbacks to pick [the offense] up. Just the offense itself, it’s not the easiest offense in the world to pick up. It’s a language and we have to do a fantastic job of teaching it well and making sure that our players, especially the quarterbacks, understand the emphasis of each play and the concept that we’re trying to get done,” said O’Brien during a Big Ten coaches conference call two weeks ago.

If the prized recruit can master the complexity of the playbook, it won’t take much for O’Brien to hand over the keys to the offense, but even if he doesn’t initially, Hackenberg could still be a factor in 2013.

“You bring these guys in, they are on full scholarship. Unless they are injured, you’re going to put them into the mix and let them compete and you’re going to play the best players. You are looking to go out there and put your best football team on the field August 31,” said O’Brien at the beginning of spring practice.

With less depth than before, O’Brien needs Hackenberg not just down the line but in the present, and the “quarterback of the future” label may soon be removed.

About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.


More by Drew

McGloin Named NFL Rookie of the Week

The former Penn State record setting quarterback took home Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors following his impressive first NFL start that resulted in a 28-23 win for the Oakland Raiders on the road against the Houston Texans.

Will Adrian Amos Play Some Snaps at Linebacker?

Willis and Carson Talk Differences Between Butler and Roof


Former Cal Swimmer Says She Emailed Sandy Barbour About Sexual Harassment Claims

Longtime Cal athletics employee Mohamed Muqtar was accused by seven former Golden Bears student-athletes of sexual violence and harassment dating back 20 years prior to his firing on May 11. An internal investigation from the school substantiated those claims.

Max Sauve Commits To Penn State Hockey

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Evaluating Tony Carr’s Performance At The 2018 NBA Draft Combine

Student Life

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Career Services To Launch Integrated Career Management & Recruiting Platform

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

State Theatre Recognized As A State College Historic Site

As it approaches the 80th anniversary of its opening, the State Theatre has been recognized as a State College historic site.

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Send this to a friend