Penn State notebook: Ferguson 'a little bit ahead' of Hackenberg
• Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said on Thursday he anticipates naming a starter at quarterback two weeks into training camp.
Redshirt sophomore Tyler Ferguson and true freshman Christian Hackenberg will compete to replace Matt McGloin, who led the Big Ten in passing last season. Ferguson, a junior college transfer, beat out Steven Bench this spring and will go into preseason practice as the No. 1 quarterback. But O'Brien made it clear during a Penn State Coaches Caravan stop in Pittsburgh that Hackenberg, a heralded recruit, will be given a long look during training camp.
“You'd have to say (Ferguson's) a little bit ahead of Christian, but it will be a competition,” O'Brien said. “That's the measure of a good football team when you have good players at every position and you can compete. We've got to give Christian a chance to catch up and compete.” Hackenberg is scheduled to enroll at Penn State in late June for summer classes. O'Brien said the summer will be important for both quarterbacks. “Matt McGloin made huge strides over last summer,” he said. “Now he was an older guy, but I think you can make a lot of strides in the summer on your own and so we'll see how they do with that.”
• Penn State has the luxury of redshirting freshman Adam Breneman because of its depth at tight end. But O'Brien said Breneman, one of the top tight end recruits in the country, will be given an opportunity to play as a freshman. “Judging by what he did this spring I think he can contribute for us next year,” O'Brien said. Breneman tore his ACL last summer and was held out of contact during spring practice. But Breneman, who enrolled at Penn State in January, did enough to impress O'Brien. “He can run, he can catch, he's got some toughness so I don't see why he couldn't play for us next year.”
• One reason why O'Brien isn't worried about getting enough snaps for his tight ends this season: he plans on using four-tight end sets at time this season. “I think you guys know I have a fondness for tight ends,” he said.
• O'Brien can't seem to say enough about outside linebacker Mike Hull these days. “He's one of the top five players on our team,” O'Brien said of the Canon-McMillan graduate. Hull, a redshirt junior, is one of Penn State's most valuable and versatile defensive players.
• O'Brien is optimistic about the 2013 season provided Penn State can avoid a lot of injuries. “I have a very positive feeling about this team. Hopefully it leads to wins. If it doesn't we'll probably be canceling the (Coaches) Caravan next year.”