It took Joe Paterno over 40 years to start a true freshman at quarterback to open the season. One report suggests it will take Bill O’Brien just two.
A report published by ESPN.com says Christian Hackenberg, a blue chip quarterback recruit out of Virginia in Penn State’s class of 2013, will get the start under center for Penn State on Saturday. Penn State faces off with Syracuse in MetLife Stadium, meaning Hackenberg will make his first start in the NFL stadium.
O’Brien has remained largely silent on the quarterback situation all training camp and in the days leading up to the start of his second season as head coach. The coach said this week that his players knew who the starter would be and that everyone else would have to wait until kickoff for everyone else to find out.
If the report is true and Haceknberg does start for Penn State, it means he would have beaten out junior college quarterback Tyler Ferguson. Ferguson was Penn State’s consolation prize among junior college transfers after Jake Waters chose to join Kansas State. Waters will start for the Wildcats on Friday night against FCS power North Dakota State.
The expectations are high for Hackenberg in State College. After seeing what O’Brien was able to make of Matt McGloin, why wouldn’t they be? One question that may need to be answered tomorrow is whether or not the start ultimately is a final decision or if an audition is continuing on the field against live opponents. O’Brien had teased the idea of using both quarterbacks , but a two QB system would not be ideal for O’Brien.
Rob Bolden was the last true freshman to start a season opener for Penn State (2010).
It appears one prominent graduate transfer is zeroing in on a new college football home.
Not long after it was confirmed that Scott Pagano would be transferring from Clemson, a report surfaced that three dozen or so teams had expressed interest in the defensive tackle. Pagano has since whittled that number down to seven, with 247Sports.com reporting that Arkansas, Cal, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas are the lineman’s finalists.
Pagano’s former head coach, Dabo Swinney, had previously stated that the tackle would “probably” end up at a West Coast school to finish out his career.
The recruiting website writes that “Pagano will now begin setting up official visits for the coming weekends before enrolling in May.” This upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.
Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. Pagano started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.
Things were a little busy on the personnel front for Florida State Monday.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Derwin James and Nate Andrews were two of the 11 Seminole football players who received redshirts for the 2016 season. The twin safeties received their medical hardship waivers because of injuries, James a meniscus tear suffered in Week 2 that kept him out for the rest of the year and Andrews a torn pectoral that sidelined him for the last half of the season.
While the move would technically give James three more years of eligibility, the talented defensive back is widely expected to make himself available for the 2018 NFL draft. Andrews will be a fifth-year senior in his final year of eligibility.
As a true freshman in 2015, James’ 91 tackles were second only to Reggie Northrup’s 94. He was also second on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (4.5).
For that, he was named a consensus freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC. This offseason, he was named to the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award watch lists.
Andrews has started 22 games during his time with the Seminoles.
At the other end of the personnel spectrum is Ryan Hoefield, with TomahawkNation.com reporting that the offensive lineman has not only decided to leave FSU but leave the sport, period. According to the website, Hoefield will graduate this spring and take a job in the medical field.
Hoefield played in nine games the past three years, only one f which came in 2016 and likely hastened his departure from the Seminoles.
College football free agency continues unabated this morning, with Miami the latest to see its roster a little lighter than it once was.
The Hurricanes announced in a press release that Cedrick Wright is no longer a member of Mark Richt‘s program. No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.
“I talked to Cedrick and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” the head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
The departure marks the end of a brief but eventful career for the defensive back with the ‘Canes.
Wright was a three-star member of The U’s 2016 recruiting class who played in nine games as a true freshman. He was also suspended for the Week 12 game against North Carolina State because of unspecified violations of team rules, and missed the team’s bowl game as well because of academics.
Kevin Lempa‘s new destination hasn’t yet been announced — he interviewed for a Michigan analyst job earlier this month — but Hawaii’s defensive coordinator has already been replace.
Legi Suiaunoa was promoted to defensive coordinator a week and a half ago, and on Monday the Warriors announced Honolulu native Jacob Yoro as safeties coach.
“Jake is a guy that I was interested in even before I got the job here at Hawai’i,” head coach Nick Rolovich (pictured) said in a statement. “I always thought he’d be a good fit with our philosophy. He’s well respected on the West Coast, not only for his knowledge but also for the noise he’s made on the recruiting side of the game. I have great appreciation for grinders like Jake. We hope he adds to the trust of coaches and players in local recruiting. Local or not, though, Jake is a good ball coach.”
Yoro played at powerhouse Saint Louis High School before playing at Montana from 1998-01, then returned to the islands to coach in the Hawaii high school ranks. He left in 2009 to serve as linebackers coach at Montana Western, spent five seasons at Pacific University in Oregon and then coached the past two seasons as defensive backs coach at Cal Poly.
The Hawaii job represents Yoro’s first foray into FBS football.
“I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to join the UH football family. Coach Rolo and the rest of the staff have done a tremendous job of creating a culture that fosters greatness both on and off the field,” Yoro said.
He’ll have his work cut out for him immediately. Hawaii finished Rolovich’s first season ranked 118th nationally in pass efficiency defense, allowing 62.6 percent completions for 8.1 yards per attempt with 29 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 14 games.