Who will it be at QB?
STATE COLLEGE There were a number of questions fired at Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien on Thursday at Penn State's football Media Day.
However, there was one question that was on everyone's mind in the Penn State Media Center and that question was and still is, who will be the starting quarterback come Aug. 31 vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium?
The quarterback battle is a two-horse race between sophomore junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson (6-3, 213) and true freshman Christian Hackenberg (6-4, 210).
As most of the football fans from the TIMES NEWS area know, Hackenberg is a Tamaqua native, moving to Virginia in his youth when his parents relocated.
Ferguson is coming off a record-setting year at the College of the Sequoias, where he threw for 2,614 yards and 22 touchdowns in just 10 games.
Hackenberg was widely regarded as the nation's top pro style high school prospect in the 2012 recruiting class and captured many Penn State fans hearts when he decided to stick with the Nittany Lions even after the NCAA imposed their bevy of sanctions.
O'Brien's first comments on the quarterback race explained how he likes what he sees from both guys and that both of them are doing well with the playbook.
"We just finished day three, and we're really pleased with both guys. They are both very athletic, these guys can throw the football," said O'Brien. "Tyler came back and he's shown that he's studied in the off-season since spring practice. They make their share of mistakes. Tyler makes his share of mistakes, but he's had a good three days."
"And Christian, for just being here for the first time, putting the pads on and practicing football, he's done a really nice job of studying and trying to get better every day."
It's no doubt that both guys are talented individuals, but who has the edge early in camp? O'Brien was pretty quick to respond when asked that very question.
"I would say after three days that Tyler is a little bit ahead, again, because he has knowledge of the offense. So sure, he's a little bit ahead," said O'Brien. "He takes most of the reps with the first team right now."
"But again, Christian has come in here and really done a nice job. For a true freshman to come in here and do the things that he's done in the first three practices is really good to see. He must be staying up late at night studying the playbook because he's come from day one to day two to day three and improved and he asks great questions in the meetings. So does Tyler. These are two talented guys."
O'Brien mentioned last week at the Big 10 Media Day that he would like to name a starting quarterback by Aug. 15. On Thursday he told media members it may take a little longer than the date he first projected.
"We just need to keep practicing, keep going out there and improving," said O'Brien. "I'm going to do what's best for the football team, so I mean, I said that in Chicago, but like I hope you didn't mark it on your calendar, so you're all outside my office two weeks, a week from now or whatever. Just hold your horses.
"I think they're both, like I said, talented guys, and I just want them to continue to grasp what we're trying to do and go out there and play the next play."
Hackenberg may have spent his youth in Tamaqua, but there is a current Tamaqua resident that will be wearing the blue and white this season.
Former Blue Raider Garth Lakitksy has joined the Nittany Lions in 2013 as a "run on" player. You may know Lakitsky's name from high school wrestling, where he won a state championship during the 2010-2011 season in the Class AA 215-pound weight class. He went 42-0 that season and was a two-time TIMES NEWS Wrestler of the Year.
He spent the last two years at Lackawanna College playing football and wrestling and chose Penn State as his next destination where he plans to do the same. He is currently on the Penn State football roster and listed as a linebacker. He will wear No. 49 this season.
Penn State linebacker coach Ron Vanderlinden had this to say about Lakitsky.
"Right away we were impressed with the fact that he was also a wrestler, so we know he is a tough kid," said Vanderlinden. "He's a great young man and he's got a great work ethic, so that's a good starting spot."
With depth being an issue at linebacker for Penn State this season Lakitsky definitely has an opportunity to compete in 2013.
Media Day means that football is right around the corner. Many questions, as always need to be answered before the Nittany Lions take the field at Met Life Stadium on Aug. 31. Still, the most intriguing question is who lead O'Brien's offense in 2013.
It will certainly be interesting to see how it all unfolds.