College Station, PA, United States (4E Sports) – Freshman Christian Hackenberg has been named Penn State’s starting quarterback over junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson.
Ferguson enrolled in January and held an early edge in preseason camp. But Hackenberg closed in by Week 2, prompting Penn State coach Bill O’Brien to say their competition was too close to call.
Both first-year quarterbacks will see time Saturday against Syracuse.
“The guy who’s the starter is going to play the majority of the snaps,” O’Brien said, adding that a young backup like Ferguson needs to “get his feet wet a little bit.”
Hackenberg was ESPN’s top-rated passer of the 2013 class.
He will become just the third true freshman since 1910 to start at quarterback for the Nittany Lions. Shorty Miller was the first in 1910, and Rob Bolden made his debut in 2010.
As a senior in high school, Hackenberg led Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy to the state title game, where it lost to Liberty Christian 35-14. He finished the season completing 54 percent of his passes and throwing for 2,144 yards, 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
O’Brien acknowledged Thursday night in a radio show that the team was well aware that Hackenberg will start, but wanted their quarterbacks to avoid the limelight by holding off public announcements.