Penn State Nittany Lions: Jack Seymour

QB Ferguson to transfer from Penn State

December, 4, 2013
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State backup quarterback Tyler Ferguson was granted a release from his scholarship Monday and will seek a transfer elsewhere, he told ESPN.com.

The sophomore asked for his release prior to the departure of quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher and sent his release papers to about 50 schools, roughly 40 in the FBS and 10 in the FCS. He hopes to land somewhere in time for spring classes.

[+] EnlargeTyler Ferguson
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicTyler Ferguson played well in spring practice but was eventually passed by Christian Hackenberg as Penn State's No. 1 QB in preseason.
"I'm just wanting to play somewhere," Ferguson said. "I really don't have any preference where that is; I just want to play somewhere."

Ferguson enrolled at Penn State in January and overtook the lone returning quarterback, Steven Bench, during spring practice to become the No. 1 QB. Bench transferred to South Florida, but true freshman Christian Hackenberg then surpassed Ferguson on the depth chart in the preseason.

The former junior-college standout finished this season playing in five games. He went 10-of-15 for 155 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Rumors circulated before the season that Ferguson intended to transfer because he was homesick for Bakersfield, Calif. He left campus for several weeks in July for family reasons but told ESPN.com that the thought of transferring back then never entered his mind.

It was only in the past two or three weeks, during talks with his father, that he believed it might be best to seek an opportunity elsewhere.

"After the Wisconsin game, we sat down with [Bill] O'Brien and he agreed that I could play somewhere else," Ferguson said. "And we both agreed Christian is a hell of a player."

Ferguson said proximity to home was not a factor in his decision to leave Penn State, nor will it be in where he'll wind up next. He weighed getting a degree from Penn State as a backup quarterback but ultimately decided to finish his education as a potential starter elsewhere.

"I just want a school that says, 'You're going to come in and compete,'" Ferguson said. "And whether that's -- and I'm just throwing this school out there as an example -- Boston College or Fresno State. If that gives me the best chance to compete and they're a good team, one of the top four teams in their conference or something like that, that'd be great."

With Ferguson's departure, Hackenberg is currently the only scholarship quarterback on the roster. However, ESPN 300 quarterback Michael O'Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy), a four-star PSU commit, is set to enroll in January.

Three preferred walk-ons -- D.J. Crook, Austin Whipple and Jack Seymour -- are also on the roster.

Ferguson will finish out the semester in State College before flying west to California. And he said his time at Penn State, however short, was memorable.

"I don't think I could've possibly learned more football from any school than I did from coaches O'Brien and Fisher," he said. "I'm very grateful."

PSU position preview: Quarterback

August, 29, 2013
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As part of an ongoing series, NittanyNation will preview a different position leading up to the season opener against Syracuse on Saturday. Today is the last installment: Quarterback.

Projected starter: Christian Hackenberg (2012 HS stats: 156-of-291 for 2,144 yards; 24 touchdowns, nine interceptions)

Key losses: Matt McGloin (2012 stats: 270-of-446 for 3,266 yards; 24 touchdowns, five interceptions)

Next in line: No, Bill O'Brien still hasn't publicly announced a starter -- but that appears to be Hackenberg, with juco signal-caller Tyler Ferguson as the backup. Ferguson will still see time at points this year, so last year's McGloin-Steven Bench split shouldn't be repeated.

D.J. Crook is listed as the third-string quarterback, while Austin Whipple is likely No. 4. Freshman walk-on Jack Seymour, who turned down MAC scholarship offers, is No. 5.

What to expect: Let's start off with what NOT to expect -- and that's a repeat of last season's 24:5 TD-to-INT ratio. Hackenberg is one of those players, his high school coach said, who comes along once or twice in a career. But that doesn't necessarily equate to immediate success.

Even NFL quarterback Matt Stafford, whom ESPN rated the No. 1 QB back in his class, threw nearly twice as many picks as touchdowns in his first season. So there's no easy way to place expectations on Hackenberg here. For every Stafford, there's a Chad Henne -- somebody who breaks out as a true freshman and ties some school passing records.

Hackenberg boasts all the tools for success -- throwing power, accuracy, mobility, size -- but he needs to improve upon reading defenses. All freshmen do. This year may be a wild card, but the future is bright for Hackenberg. Penn State's just hoping that future comes sooner rather than later.

Recruiting trail: ESPN 300 quarterback Michael O'Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy) will enroll early, and he'll bring some much-needed depth to the position. He's a quality player who, if needed, could contribute right away.

O'Brien likes to go after the best players available, and that was O'Connor. He wasn't a "need" pick. O'Brien offered him a scholarship before Bench even transferred, a few weeks after he wowed assistant coach Charlie Fisher by calling out Penn State plays he saw on film. O'Connor is a quick study and, if everything goes as planned, could become a two-year starter following Hackenberg.

Best-case scenario: Hackenberg fares well in his first few starts during the nonconference season. There are some bumps but, overall, he keeps Penn State in games and earns the respect of fans and his teammates with his play. The Lions' offense breaks out with more big plays than ever thanks to Hackenberg's arm, and he earns a spot on the freshman All-American team. He peaks near the end of the season, guides PSU to an improved record and has fans clamoring about a title run in 2016.

Worst-case scenario: The true freshman's adjustment to the college game is a slow one, as he makes poor decisions that consistently lead to turnovers. O'Brien is forced to use Ferguson a bit more than anticipated, and a controversy looms. Hackenberg shows flashes of potential, giving fans hope, but he also shows he's just not yet ready to be a full-time starter. Penn State wins fewer than eight games as a result.

Top position question: Just how good can Hackenberg be? Well, he's bound for the NFL. That's … not something you usually say about an 18-year-old kid who's never taken a college snap. But every one of ESPN's top-rated quarterback recruits made it to the NFL upon graduation, and only one of the three younger quarterbacks still playing doesn't appear to have an NFL future. (Sorry, Phillip Sims.)

Russell Wilson played in the same high school league as Hackenberg, and most coaches there said Wilson is the better QB. Still, it's close. Expectations are big enough here that Hackenberg would be a disappointment if he didn't make it to the NFL.

How good can he be? He could be the best since Kerry Collins. But that's all a game of "what ifs" right now. Obviously, his potential is high -- but we should get a glimpse Saturday of just what he's capable of.

Notes on PSU's newest depth chart

August, 26, 2013
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Penn State's depth chart was released on Monday and, much to no one's surprise, a starting quarterback was not named. An "OR" appears next to the names of Tyler Ferguson and Christian Hackenberg.

Still, there were a few notable changes on the depth chart and in the game notes:
  • Adam Gress was nursing an injury last week, and he was not listed as the definite starter at right tackle. He's still battling with TE-turned-OT Garry Gilliam. Bill O'Brien will likely update Gress' progress on Tuesday.
  • Von Walker, a run-on whom O'Brien complimented last week, is listed as competing for the No. 2 kickoff return spot with Akeel Lynch. Walker is an athlete whom PSU hopes to utilize as a slotback. This might be the biggest surprise on the depth chart. You can read more about Walker here.
  • D.J. Crook is listed as the third-string quarterback. He was competing with Austin Whipple and Jack Seymour for the No. 3 spot. He was listed as the third-stringer on the post-spring depth chart as well.
  • Bill Belton is still listed as the No. 2 tailback, ahead of Lynch ... but that likely doesn't mean much. Both will see carries.
  • There's an "OR" listed next to Malcolm Willis' name, signifying he's still competing with Ryan Keiser at safety. Willis is obviously expected to be the starter -- barring injury. O'Brien will undoubtedly be asked about that on Tuesday.
  • Middle linebacker Glenn Carson is still listed as the snapper at punter, despite picking up a run-on whose specialty is snapping and having Howle snapping on field goals.
Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Jim Murphy writes: How will Brad Bars' injury impact depth for the Lions this season? Was he poised for significant playing time?

Josh Moyer: He had high expectations back in February. I last talked to a smiling Bars during Thon weekend, when he volunteered to show host families around the football building. He said this at the time: "I feel like this is the season I'm going to take my game to another level. My expectations have risen a lot. ... I expect to be a key player on the team this year."
QB Jack Seymour (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor) is one of the more interesting stories of this class of run-ons. He turned down several scholarship offers to walk-on to PSU, and he'll be one of just five QBs on the PSU roster this season.

NittanyNation recently caught up with the quarterback to talk about his career goals, what he's currently up to and more. He'll join the team June 22.

NittanyNation: So, tell me, what have you been doing lately to get ready for Penn State? Are you trying to relax a bit now, or are you in full-workout mode?

Jack Seymour: Well, I've been trying to get up at 6:30 to get ready for workouts. I've been lifting every day, and I'm doing boxing to cross-train -- so I've been doing 2-3 workouts a day, and I'm doing the playbook about 30 minutes each day. I've got a big whiteboard up on my room, so I've been drawing up routes and stuff. I've been working hard.

NN: I don't hear about boxing quarterbacks too often. What's the goal behind that?

JS: I've heard from some coaches that it helps with the throwing hand -- and it also helps with my heart rate too, because there's a lot of running. It's a hard workout. It's like cardio and explosiveness with my throwing hand.

I've definitely noticed a difference -- especially on the 20-yard, 18-yard and comeback routes. It's helped with arm strength, with the quick release and stuff like that.

NN: Your role is a bit more important this year since there are only two scholarship QBs. What were your thoughts when Steven Bench left?

JS: Well, first off, Bench and I were -- after I met him, I just saw what a cool guy he was. So, it sucks he left, but it did get me excited and put me in a great spot because I'll have a better opportunity for reps and to get on the field.

I mean, it's just another thing that helps me moving forward, that I'm going to have a better opportunity. I was excited in hearing that, not in the sense he left but in the sense there's more space for me because I know it would've been harder to get reps with three quarterbacks.

NN: What are your goals for this first season and for your career at PSU?

JS: I'm not thinking of setting myself for a certain position or a certain spot. I'm not going to say my goal is to get second string, and I don't want to be cocky and say I want to become a starter. But that's ultimately it. If a QB doesn't have that as a goal, I guess something's kind of wrong with you.

I just want to get as high up as I can and do my best for the team. And obviously, just as Matt McGloin did incredible things in his fifth year, I guess my goals would be similar to him. Just working my way up competing. ... So I think my expectation is to really never let an opportunity slip by, like if someone might be injured and I go in. I'm going to be prepared no matter what.

NN: You played for a small team at a school that was more accustomed to tennis championships. But, you still managed to get noticed by several FBS programs. How did you manage to catch coaches' eyes?

JS: Hard work, just on and off the field. My freshman year, I had the opportunity to transfer to a bigger school where I'd be on a bigger team and all that. And, ultimately, I decided not to because I thought that no matter where I was at, I'd make myself stand out.

I committed to the guys at Park, and I didn't want to leave them. My goal my freshman year was to be the first quarterback from there to go D-I. I think we've had 2-3 guys go D-I at other positions, and I just had a lot of help from my coaches who'd reach out to guys for me. It just worked out. I ended up getting really good film in three years, so I think I'm just making the best of what I had. I got the opportunity to scramble a lot, took advantage and made plays.

NN: For those still wondering, why did you decide to turn down several offers to walk-on to Penn State?

JS: Well, the MAC schools I had offers from, those are great schools. But, in my mind, I wanted a better education and, second off, I kind of wanted to give myself a shot at a bigger program to see how I would do. I was looking at the perfect fit with football, academics and coaches. And at Penn State, well, you can't really get anymore perfect than Penn State when it comes to that. So when that opportunity came up, I was ecstatic.

NN: How do you want to be remembered at PSU?

JS: Oh man, I 'm trying to think of something off the top of my head. I guess I want to be known as someone who can be counted on the field and off the field. I'm not going to be someone who gets in trouble. I'm going to be an honest, hard-working player who's going to give everything I have to the university and friends and family and coaches there.
Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Brian Santoro (@santoro_brian) writes: In your opinion, does Christian Hackenberg start this year?


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Coach talk: QB Jack Seymour 

April, 3, 2013
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What kind of player is Penn State getting in preferred walk-on Jack Seymour? And what can fans expect from the player who turned down several scholarships?

NittanyNation turned to one of the people who knows most what the headliner of this run-on class is capable of on the field -- Orlando Lowry, a former NFL player and Seymour's high school coach at Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor -- and asked what separates him as a player, how he first noticed Seymour's ability and when he especially showcase his potential.


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Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Robert Passaro writes in an email: Everyone seems to be anointing Christian Hackenberg as the starter if not this year then next. What happens if Steven Bench really shows he can manage this offense this year and leads us to an 8-4 record or better?


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Meet the run-ons: QB Jack Seymour 

February, 26, 2013
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Every weekday, as part of an ongoing series, NittanyNation will take a closer look at a Penn State walk-on.

Vitals: QB Jack Seymour, Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor, 6-foot-2, 201 pounds.


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NittanyNation mailbag: Breakout players 

February, 15, 2013
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Mike HullJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesLinebacker Mike Hull's strength and athleticism make him a great candidate to become a breakout star.


Welcome to NittanyNation's bi-weekly mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions this week, and we've selected three to answer in-depth.

Adam Puzio (@Adam_Puzio) writes: Who do you think will be the biggest breakout players (the Robinson/Carter/Barnes/Amos) of 2013?

Josh Moyer: Well, you gave me four names -- so I'll give you four. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: Linebacker Mike Hull. He had the highest bench press on the team, better than the likes of 324-pound DT DaQuan Jones. He was also so quick that former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley once tried him out at safety. He's not the prototypical size of a linebacker, but he has pretty much everything else going for him. He was a big-play magnet last year, and he could be the next big thing at Linebacker U. In a secondary that's lacking depth, Hull's pass-coverage ability will be extremely important.

As far as the other three, I'm really high on OT Donovan Smith. You saw, early in the season, the impact his absence had on the line. When Adam Gress was in there instead of Smith, it was completely different. Smith has NFL potential, and I think this will be a big breakout year for him. I wouldn't at all be surprised if he made the All-Big Ten first team. The other two players I think are worth watching include wideout Eugene Lewis and defensive tackle Austin Johnson. Lewis, a high school quarterback, is an incredible athlete who just needed a season to learn routes and the playbook. He could slide into the No. 2 WR role this season. He's a playmaker.


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Run-ons overview: Offense 

February, 11, 2013
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Here's a list -- complete with film and notes -- on Penn State's offensive run-ons.


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With the Super Bowl just a few hours away, NittanyNation decided to poll some of Penn State's committed run-ons to get their take on the game. We asked for them to give the winner, the score -- and their reasoning.

Overwhelmingly, it appears as if Penn State's preferred walk-ons believe the San Francisco 49ers will win the Super Bowl. And the consensus is by a field goal:
  • WR Gregg Garrity Jr., Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny: 49ers, 27-17. No answer for Kaepernick and not enough weapons for Baltimore. San Fran will shut down Ray Rice, forcing them to pass. Flacco will have a long day.
  • QB Jack Seymour, Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor: Ravens, 31-24. I think Flacco is a much better overall quarterback with a really efficient offense that played really well in the past playoff games. He's really stepped up and shown himself to be an elite quarterback. I also picked them because Ray Lewis will carry their defense and is their source of motivation. And he will stop at nothing to win. Ravens all the way! This will be San Francisco's first-ever loss in a Super Bowl!
  • WR Chris Geiss, Malvern (Pa.) Great Valley: 49ers, 27-24. I don't think the Ravens' D can stop the option.
  • OG Evan Galimberti, State College (Pa.): 49ers, 27-13. I just think the defense of the 'Niners is too good and Kaepernick could outrun the Ravens.
  • LS Sean Corcoran, Kankakee (Ill.) Bishop McNamara: 49ers, 27-24. I think their pistol offense is extremely dangerous, and I think their defense will be able to stop Ray Rice to make the Ravens too reliant on the pass game. But I'm still rooting for Corey Graham and Brendon Ayanbadejo on the Ravens because they're former Bears!
  • LB Kyle Searfoss, Lewisberry (Pa.) Red Land: 49ers, 24-17. Their defense is too good, and Colin Kaepernick is too good.
  • S Tom Pancoast, Kennett Square (Pa.) Unionville: 49ers, 24-21. Colin Kaepernick has a big game and wins Super Bowl MVP.
  • K Chris Gulla, Toms River (N.J.) Toms River North: Ravens, 24-21. I'm thinking a little game-winner from Justin Tucker.
  • RB Brian Tomasetti, Scranton (Pa.) Old Forge: Ravens, 24-20. Their defense is too good. Kaepernick is going to get shut down, and I believe Joe Flacco will have the game of his life. Position-by-position, I feel the Ravens are better -- especially at running back with Ray Rice. Also, Ray Lewis will not lose his last game.
  • RB Cole Chiappialle, Beaver Falls (Pa.) Blackhawk: 49ers, 27-24. As a diehard Steelers fan, I will be rooting for the 49ers. No way I will cheer for the Ravens!
  • SB Von Walker, Mill Hall (Pa.) Central Mountain: 49ers, 24-17. Ravens can't stop Gore running or the Kaepernick passing attack.
  • OT Austin Fiedler, Turbotville (Pa.) Warrior Run: No idea. I think the score for each team will be in the high 20s, and it will be very close -- within six points. OK, I don't really know who will win. Both teams have a lot going for them. The Ravens have the bigger fan base, and that will give somewhat of a homefield advantage. But, on the other hand, I think the 49ers are overall a more solid team. I can't wait to watch the game actually, even though I'm not a big NFL fan.
Tyler BoydAP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackTyler Boyd likely would have committed to PSU if there were no sanctions.

Welcome to NittanyNation's bi-weekly mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions this week, and we've selected three to answer in-depth.

William Amesbury (@WAmesbury16) writes: Where do you think the 2013 recruiting class would be without the sanctions?


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Christian HackenbergCourtesy of Charles Thomas/Fork UnionWith 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.


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Q&A: Walk-on QB Seymour on PSU 

January, 27, 2013
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Quarterback Jack Seymour (Indianapolis/Park Tudor) committed to Penn State as a preferred walk-on Wednesday night despite receiving scholarship offers from several FBS schools.

NittanyNation recently spoke with Seymour at length about his decision and why he chose PSU over other destinations.

NittanyNation: First, let me ask you the question that everyone wants to know. You had scholarships from Ball State and Western Michigan, so why choose to walk-on to PSU?

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