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Penn State Football: Setting Odds on Who Starts at QB in 2013

Colin TansitsContributor IDecember 23, 2012

Penn State Football: Setting Odds on Who Starts at QB in 2013

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    With the recent commitment by Tyler Ferguson to play for Bill O’Brien next year, Penn State took its first step in replacing graduate senior quarterback Matt McGloin.

    Prior to Ferguson’s commitment, the Lions had only one scholarship quarterback on the roster heading into spring practice.

    Although top prospect Christian Hackenberg is set to sign with Penn State, he won’t be practicing in O’Brien’s offense until this summer.

    Ferguson will be enrolling in Happy Valley in the spring and will be able to participate in spring practice.

    With both Ferguson and Steven Bench now set to practice this spring at quarterback, O’Brien will be able to have a bit of competition at quarterback.

    But which of these three quarterbacks is likely to start next season?

Christian Hackenberg

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    Hackenberg has the tool set and size to become an elite quarterback in the future.

    ESPN Recruiting Nation has Hackenberg ranked first at the quarterback position.

    With what Hackenberg is capable of in the future, there will be much expected of him as he heads in to Happy Valley.

    But with Ferguson committing to Penn State and enrolling in the spring, Hackenberg will likely be more prone to taking a redshirt year to learn O’Brien’s offense.

    Hackenberg will be coming to Penn State this summer behind both Ferguson and Bench.

    This leaves the odds of Hackenberg redshirting pretty high.

    Odds: With Ferguson enrolling at Penn State in the spring, it gives Hackenberg the option to redshirt and therefore making the odds at him starting very low.

Tyler Ferguson

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    Before Tyler Ferguson committed to Penn State, JUCO quarterback Jake Waters was at the top of O’Brien’s list.

    When Waters chose Kansas State over Penn State, Ferguson committed to Happy Valley within days.

    A freshman from Bakersfield, California, Ferguson broke his collarbone before his senior year in high school but went on to break a number of school records in his freshman season at College of the Sequoias.

    Ferguson is a bit of a dark horse for the starting job for next year.

    Standing at 6’4” and 210 pounds, Ferguson is two inches taller than Bench and has a full year playing college football.

    Unlike Bench who only threw eight passes in 2012, Ferguson passed for 2,650 yards and 26 touchdowns this season playing for College of the Sequoias.

    Although Ferguson only competed on the junior college level, he nonetheless had success and gained experience playing this year.

    In high school, Ferguson showed that he has a strong arm and his height will help him at the Division I level.

    I’m putting my money on him to beat out Bench in a competition, mainly because of his height and ability to throw the ball well underneath.

    Odds: It’s very likely that we’ll see Ferguson starting in 2013—that is, if he can pick up the offense quick enough

Steven Bench

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    As the only returning scholarship quarterback at Penn State, Steven Bench seems to have the advantage on the starting job at quarterback.

    Bench spent an entire season learning O’Brien’s offense and working in his system, and as my colleague Barry Leonard writes, Bench seems to have the upper hand at earning the starting spot.

    Out of Cairo High School in Georgia, Bench wasn’t heavily recruited and had scholarship offers from mainly from FCS football schools.

    ESPN Recruiting Nation ranked Bench as the No. 75 quarterback and gave him a 3-star ranking, and cited that Bench’s flight under the radar may be due to his high school offensive scheme.

    Much like Ferguson and Hackenberg, we haven’t seen much of what Bench can do on the Division I level.

    In his two appearances Bench didn’t do much of anything, but his time in O’Brien's system will help give him an advantage over Ferguson in spring practice.

    As the previous slide suggests, I think Ferguson will be starting next season because his size and throwing abilities might prove to be better than those possessed by Bench.

    Odds: High, he is the top candidate as of right now because he had the time learning O’Brien’s offense and working in his system, but Ferguson will have an opportunity to win the job.

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