ESPN’s Josh Moyer has reported that true freshman Christian Hackenberg will be the starter when Penn State takes the field at New York’s MetLife Stadium for a neutral-site showdown against Syracuse to open the 2013 season. Moyer’s report follows a heated offseason competition for the starter’s role between the highly-touted recruit Hackenberg and junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson.
There’s a catch to the report, however: Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien has yet to officially confirm Hackenberg as his definitive choice. Further, O’Brien has stated that both players will be seeing some time on the field either way.
“The guy who’s the starter is going to play the majority of the snaps,” he said. “But I think it’s important when you have two young guys — it’s a totally different situation from last year — is that whoever the backup is needs to get his feet wet a little bit.”
Hackenberg was the crown jewel of Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, the Palmyra, Virginia native was rated as the No. 1 pocket passing recruit in the entire country. He received offers from the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and pretty much every other big-time school under the sun.
He committed relatively early in the recruiting process, however, and stuck by his decision. What’s more, he made it in light of the fact that it will be three more years before PSU can participate in a postseason game.
The young superstar-in-the-making is now being rewarded for his unwavering commitment to the program. If Moyer’s report proves accurate, Hackenberg will be only the third true freshman ever to start a game for the Nittany Lions. Shorty Miller was the first way back in 1910 and Rob Bolden was the second in 2008.