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Insider

Hackenberg & ESPN's history of top QBs

11/7/2012
Josh Moyer/ESPN.com

Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union) follows a long line of successful No. 1-rated quarterbacks in the ESPN 150 -- leaving many to wonder what his future might hold.

Can he come in and be the starter? Does history say he'll succeed? Can he experience success right off the bat?

NittanyNation decided to take a closer look at every one of ESPN's top passers since 2006 to determine what history says about Hackenberg's chances -- for both his future and his success during that rookie campaign.

Here are ESPN's past quarterbacks who were ranked No. 1 at their position:

2006

Matthew Stafford, 6-3, 200 pounds

Highland Park (Texas)/Highland Park

Committed to: Georgia

Scouts Grade: 93

Synopsis: Stafford is now a name most fans recognize because he became the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 NFL draft and was the fourth quarterback in NFL history to surpass 5,000 passing yards in a season. Not at all shabby for a 24-year-old.

He gradually improved each season he was with the Bulldogs and left school after three seasons. He threw for 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a sophomore but boasted a memorable junior season, throwing for 3,459 yards, 25 scores and 10 interceptions.

Freshman highlights: Despite Stafford's acclaim, he didn't step in as the starter. He enrolled early, but Joe Tereshinski was still ahead of him on the depth chart. When Tereshinski was injured in the third game, Stafford stepped in -- and threw three interceptions. Still, he improved and was named starter even when Tereshinski's health improved. He showed flashes of brilliance but struggled (13 interceptions, seven TDs). Georgia finished 9-4.

2007

Jimmy Clausen, 6-3, 218 pounds

Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian

Committed to: Notre Dame

Scouts Grade: 86

Synopsis: Like Stafford, Clausen played just three seasons in college before declaring for the NFL, where he slid to the second round because of questions about his attitude. He was widely considered worthy of a top-10 pick but was taken 48th overall in the 2010 draft.

He improved each year at Notre Dame and tossed 28 touchdowns to just four interceptions as a junior. With the Carolina Panthers, he started 10 games his rookie season but threw for just three scores and nine interceptions. He is currently listed as Carolina's third-string QB, behind Cam Newton and Derek Anderson.

Freshman highlights: Clausen enrolled early and was named the starter by Week 2 -- when Notre Dame lost to Penn State 31-10. The Fighting Irish had a plethora of inexperienced quarterbacks, and that position (along with defensive line) was the biggest question mark entering the season. Clausen had mixed success (seven TDs, six interceptions). Notre Dame went 3-9 in Clausen's freshman season.

2008

Terrelle Pryor, 6-foot-6, 227 pounds

Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette

Committed to: Ohio State

Scouts Grade: 93

Synopsis: When it looked as if Pryor would be suspended from Ohio State, he declared early for the supplemental draft and the Oakland Raiders selected him in the third round. He has played in just one game so far in his NFL career and has yet to attempt a pass; he's the third-string quarterback.

He had a memorable career as an Ohio State quarterback. The Buckeyes finished No. 11 his freshman year, No. 5 his sophomore year and No. 5 his junior year, and went to a BCS bowl every season. He threw for 2,772 yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a junior, adding 754 yards and four scores on the ground.

Freshman highlights: By Week 4, Pryor supplanted Todd Boeckman -- a quarterback who took Ohio State to the national title game a year before -- and started the rest of the way. He was more efficient passing as a freshman than as a sophomore. He had 12 passing TDs with four interceptions and rushed for 631 yards and six touchdowns. The Buckeyes finished 10-3 and lost in the Fiesta Bowl. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

2009

Matt Barkley, 6-foot-3, 222 pounds

Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei

Committed to: USC

Scouts Grade: 93

Synopsis: Barkley decided to stay at USC for his senior season, but he could have been a top-five pick in the NFL draft if he had declared early. He completed 69 percent of his passes last season for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He is doing well this season, but his stats aren't like last year's. So far, he has 30 touchdowns to 10 picks, and USC stands at 6-3. Still, he's a lock to be a first-rounder.

Freshman highlights: He enrolled early and competed for the starting job after Mark Sanchez declared for the NFL draft. After spring ball, he was named the backup quarterback behind Aaron Corp. But Barkley's ability impressed the staff so much he was named the starter on Aug. 27. He finished his rookie season with 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and USC finished 9-4 -- good for No. 20 in the coaches' poll.

2010

Phillip Sims, 6-foot-1, 218 pounds

Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith

Committed to: Alabama (then transferred to Virginia)

Scouts Grade: 83

Synopsis: After A.J. McCarron beat out Sims last season for the starting job, he transferred to Virginia and was able to claim an exemption, allowing him to play immediately, because he was moving close to home. The redshirt sophomore has challenged incumbent starter Michael Rocco, played in every game, and started the last four. He has 1,115 passing yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 55.8 percent of his passes.

Freshman highlights: Sims enrolled early at Alabama but redshirted his freshman season while senior Greg McElroy ran the offense. The next season, McCarron beat out Sims for the starting job and led the Crimson Tide to a national championship. As a substitute his rookie season, Sims finished 18-of-28 for 163 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions .

2011

Jeff Driskel, 6-foot-4, 224 pounds

Ovideo, Fla./Paul J. Hagerty

Committed to: Florida

Scouts Grade: 85

Synopsis: Driskel pulled away from Jacoby Brissett in this season's quarterback duel by Week 1. Driskel played a majority of that first game and has started every contest since. Through nine games, he has played relatively well. He has 1,226 passing yards, nine touchdowns and three picks. He is completing 63 percent of his passes and is No. 2 on the team with 348 rushing yards. Florida is currently sixth in the BCS rankings and stands at 8-1.

Freshman highlights: He enrolled early, didn't redshirt and played sparingly in five games. He was just 16-of-34 for 148 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions while playing behind senior John Brantley.

2012

Jameis Winston, 6-foot-4, 195 pounds

Hueytown, Ala./Hueytown

Committed to: Florida State

Scouts Grade: 84

Synopsis: Winston is redshirting this season, but he'll be in the running for next season's starting quarterback job. He'll compete with Clint Trickett and Jacob Coker next season. Coker is a redshirt freshman this season, so Winston will have to unseat him at some point or face or the specter of seeing just one season as a starter -- or becoming an MLB prospect. Trickett is the early favorite to start next year.