The recent Nittany Lion quarterback recruiting saga really isn’t about who they have.
It’s not about Steven Bench.
It’s about who they don’t have. As in simply another scholarship quarterback for the next six months.
While coach Bill O’Brien won’t play two quarterbacks at a time, he does need two viable options studying his playbook, working through the strength and conditioning program and taking reps in spring practice.
If nothing else, having competition should push each participant to try harder, get better.
Of course, quarterbacks do get injured, as well. And they do underperform. So having a capable backup by the end of August is a must.
And an older, experienced backup would be preferred.
Translation: The Penn State staff would at least like the option of redshirting Virginia schoolboy star Christian Hackenberg after he arrives on campus in the summer.
Which is why the Lions went so hard after top-rated junior college QB Jake Waters out of Iowa Western. They thought they had him, too, if you believe the reports.
Waters even talked of possibly canceling his last-minute visit with the Kansas State coaching staff, that’s seemingly how hard he was leaning to Penn State.
And then something changed at the end, which is surprising, but not all that shocking in recruiting.
Waters never had the clear path to the starting spot for the 2013 Nittany Lions. But he was crucial competition and insurance.
And so O’Brien quickly re-directed and went after No. 2 option, Tyler Ferguson from the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif.
Ferguson is not as highly-rated as Waters and is a year younger. Ferguson is taller (6-foot-4 to 6-2) and may have an even stronger arm, but he also is more raw.
Ferguson would have four years to play three at Penn State.
He could take a recruiting visit to State College or he may simply choose between Penn State and Houston on Friday.
“I’d be shocked if (Ferguson) did not chose Penn State,” said Greg Pickel with Scout.com.
Both he and Waters are pro-style pocket passers without much need to run, which seems to be O’Brien’s preference.
“Ferguson has a release-point issue (with his throwing motion),” Pickel said. “Those type of things can be fixed, but Jake Waters would be coming in without those issues.
“Both are high I.Q. guys. They can sit back and read a defense.”
Ferguson, who is from Bakersfield, Calif., reportedly was in the midst of a strong senior season two years ago before breaking his collarbone. That pushed college recruiters away.
Without any significant offers, he chose the junior college route for this past season.
Because of enrolling next month, Ferguson’s scholarship would count against 2012 recruiting and would fill that class. Penn State has two slots still available for the 2013 class, which should be finalized the first Wednesday in February.
Among possibilities for those spots are Harrisburg receiver Brian Lemelle, Georgia cornerback Deondre Singleton and Alabama defensive tackle Rod Crayton.