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Wednesday, January 30, 2013
A look at Penn State's incoming QB recruits

By Josh Moyer

Christian Hackenberg
With size and arm ability, Christian Hackenberg will be groomed as Penn State's QB of the future.

Two months ago, Penn State had just one committed quarterback -- and that seemed like a pressing issue that might take a while to resolve. With just one QB officially on the roster in Steven Bench, depth was obviously a concern.

Well, it certainly isn't anymore. Bill O'Brien garnered commitments from five players who'll compete at quarterback. And he also convinced four other players -- who were the starting quarterbacks on their respective teams -- to play at other positions at Penn State.

NittanyNation takes a closer look at all these signal-callers:

QUARTERBACKS WHO WILL STAY QBs

Christian Hackenberg, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy
Stats: Passing -- 156-of-291; 2,144 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs. Rushing -- 89 carries, 436 yards, 3 TDs.
Status: Committed (scholarship)

Synopsis: He's the top-rated high school quarterback in the nation. He can make all the throws, has a great arm, and his potential is endless. He just needs to familiarize himself with the playbook and better learn to read defenses. Opposing coaches said he had difficulty picking up disguised coverages and blitzes. He's obviously Penn State's quarterback of the future.

Tyler Ferguson, Visalia (Calif.) College of the Sequoias
Stats: Passing -- 199-of-358; 2,614 yards, 22 TDs, 12 INTs. Rushing -- 52 carries, minus-222 yards, 0 TDs.
Status: Enrolled (scholarship)

Synopsis: He'll compete for the starting job, but he'll likely end up as Bench's backup. He at least gives the staff the ability to redshirt Hackenberg. The juco early enrollee is an athletic quarterback who can scramble -- he didn't have the best OL this past year -- and throw on the run. Opposing coaches said he seemed to get rattled at times, however, and ESPN's scouts believe his mechanics are a bit unrefined.

Jack Seymour, Indianapolis Park Tudor
Stats: Passing -- 1,670 yards, 17 TDs. (Missed two games; other stats N/A.)
Status: Committed as walk-on

Synopsis: He turned down a few MAC offers to walk-on to Penn State, and he's a quality backup who flew under the radar because he played for a struggling team. He was a three-year starter at Park Tudor, which is known for its academics, and the receiving corps there was far from great. He's a leader and constantly played under pressure. He has a high ceiling, and he could eventually be the No. 2 behind Hackenberg after Bench graduates.

D.J. Crook, Worcester (Mass.) Academy
Stats: N/A
Status: Enrolled as walk-on

Synopsis: The postgraduate player was hampered in high school by some bad luck. He missed the U.S. Army All-American Combine as a junior due to mono and, as a senior, he broke his thumb right as schools were intent on offering. He plays no other positions, and that's why his coach at Worcester thought he didn't receive as much recruiting attention. However, Coach Tony Johnson added, he can make the back-shoulder fades, throw the quick outs, the hitches, everything. He helped lead a spread option attack -- despite not playing the option before -- and Johnson said he's able to learn quickly.

Austin Whipple, Salisbury (Conn.) School
Stats: Passing -- 92-of-166; 1,450 yards, 12 TDs, 8 INTs. Rushing -- 60 carries, 135 yards, 6 TDs.
Status: Enrolled as walk-on

Synopsis: He's the son of Mark Whipple, the Cleveland Brown's quarterbacks coach, and he's been forced to play in a lot of different offenses as a result of moving around. His postgraduate coach at Salisbury said that's forced him to find ways to adjust quickly. He's considered an unselfish player.

Bill O'Brien
Bill O'Brien has already proven his ability to refine quarterbacks.
QBs PLAYING OTHER POSITIONS

Chris Geiss, Malvern (Pa.) Great Valley
Status: Committed as walk-on

Synopsis: He was a dual-threat QB in high school, but Penn State's bringing him in as an athlete. Geiss is likely to play wideout.

Tom Pancoast, Kennett Square (Pa.) Unionville
Status: Committed as walk-on

Synopsis: He played in an option offense, but PSU still gave him the choice to come in as a safety, quarterback -- or both. Pancoast chose safety because he figured he could gain more playing time there. He's hoping to contribute on special teams immediately.

Von Walker, Mill Hall (Pa.) Central Mountain
Status: Committed as walk-on

Synopsis: Even Walker admitted he was basically a running back plugged in as the QB. He doesn't have the skills to be a college quarterback, really, at any level -- but he's very athletic. He runs in the 4.5s, and Penn State wants him as a slotback. Ideally, he'd play a role similar to Alex Kenney.

Anthony Smith, Wayne (Pa.) Valley Forge Military
Status: Enrolled (scholarship)

Synopsis: The postgraduate athlete wasn't even supposed to play quarterback at Valley Forge -- but he stepped up when the starter was lost for the season in Week 1. He also started at cornerback, and that's obviously where Penn State wants him. Smith has an outside shot to replace Eugene Lewis on the scout team, if PSU chooses to redshirt him. PSU needs someone to mimic those dual-threat quarterbacks, after all.