Penn State fans are dreaming big when it comes to freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. In just his second start for the Nittany Lions, and his first in Beaver Stadium, the five-star recruit set a new freshman passing record by passing for 311 yards in Penn State’s 45-7 victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Zack Mills previously held the freshman passing record for Penn State, with 280 yards in two different games in 2001 (Ohio State, Southern Mississippi). Hackenberg passed for one passing touchdown and was intercepted once, but progress is already visible under center.
Hackenberg completed 23 of 33 pass attempts and settled down after getting off to a rocky start in his first home game at Penn State. Hackenberg was throwing passes above his receivers early and he lost a fumble when a ball slipped out of his hand. Eastern Michigan scooped up the football and returned it for a touchdown, the only time the Eagles scored. Bill O’Brien stuck with the freshman though, showing faith that he would settle down if given time. It paid off this weekend.
Hackenberg was replaced by junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson with the game all but decided in the fourth quarter. Penn State improved to 2-0, reversing the outcome of the first two games a season ago. Next week Penn State hosts Blake Bortles and Central Florida.
Well here’s a bit of a shocker for you this morning. UCLA running back Myles Jack has reportedly withdrawn from UCLA and will prepare to enter the NFL Draft in 2016. The news was first reported, via Twitter, by Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated.
Jack has played linebacker and fullback for the Bruins, and his decision to turn pro now comes off feeling a bit strange. Head coach Jim Mora certainly questions the decision by Jack.
“I think it’s very risky to do this. There’s a lot of speculation to ….where he fits,” Mora explained, via Thamel. “I’ve been in 25 Draft rooms. I’ve never seen a guys taken off (two games of junior tape)… Myles’ talent is without question. I hope he’s put enough out there where they can get a true evaluation.”
Jack suffered a season-ending knee injury last month in a practice. The injury led USC Athletics Director Pat Haden to send him a letter wishing him well in a sign of good sportsmanship between conference and crosstown rivals. Perhaps the season-ending injury led Jack to consider the consequences of returning in 2016 in a UCLA uniform, with players not being compensated for their play. The question then becomes if Jack is a good enough talent to go in round one, or even round two, considering the latest injury situation for him.
Well, here is the instant opinion of our friend Josh Norris of Rotoworld and an NFL Draft analyst…
Jack was a two-time second team All-Pac-12 selection and Pac-12 Defensive and Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2013.
Virginia Tech has been playing just about the whole season without starting quarterback Michael Brewer after the Hokies signal-caller broke his collarbone in the first game of the season. Now, Brewer is on his way back to the field. Brewer has been medically cleared to return to practice in Blacksburg. It may still be another few weeks until he gets back in a game for Virginia Tech.
Brewer broke his collarbone in Virginia Tech’s season-opening loss to Ohio State. Once he left the game, it seemed the Hokies were unable to give the defending national champions much of a fight for a second straight season. He was originally expected to miss eight to 10 weeks of action, which would have meant a return for a Halloween game against Boston College as the earliest likely date. Virginia Tech has a bye week after the Boston College game, meaning Brewer could then be available for a Thursday night division game against Georgia Tech on November 12. Considering all of that, the chance Brewer might be available to play this Friday night against N.C. State is quite a pleasant surprise for a Virginia Tech team in need of some help after dropping to 2-3 after a second straight loss last weekend. Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times says Brewer could be a gametime decision for Frank Beamer.
The outlook is not quite as possible for Hokies running back Marshawn Williams. Williams will be out for the rest of the season after reinjuring his left knee in practice in late September. It is the same knee that was surgically repaired last December. Williams can use this season as his redshirt season as he has not played in a game this season. He will still have three years of eligibility remaining when he returns to the team next fall.