Penn State Football: Franklin Seemingly Tips Hand With Hackenberg Decision
Newly hired Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead spoke with the media for the first time on Wednesday afternoon, but it was what James Franklin said that may have made the most news.
"I think there is an argument to be made that our strength right now is at wide receiver and running back," Franklin said while answering a question. "Our tight end position is growing, I think our offensive line position is growing and we have three quarterbacks that we're excited about. Being able to have those quarterbacks in a position to make plays and be able to spread the field and to be able to spread the ball...it's going to allow our offensive line to continue to grow and take some of that pressure off."
In the technical sense Penn State's current roster has five quarterbacks listed, although conventional wisdom has Christian Hackenberg, Trace McSorely and Tommy Stevens as the most likely candidates to actually play. For the past three years the depth chart has been listed in that order with McSorely the heir apparent for the day Hackenberg finally leaves.
And that day appears to be soon.
It comes as little shock that Hackenberg would consider going pro after this season, and for the most part that has generally been the assumed course of action for the junior signal caller. Even if his future is slightly uncertain and not quite as bright as it was once seen, Penn State and Hackenberg seem to have run their collective course.
He may no longer be the No. 1 overall pick, but another year at Penn State doesn't seem much preferred to the alternatives. Hackenberg has been sacked over 100 times and hit many more. That's unlikely to change in the next 12 months. Even if Hackenberg recently claimed to not know how the draft process works, it's a day the last 10 years of his life have centered around. He knows, and if he doesn't, his camp does.
Even so, Franklin certainly appears to have either been given the news of Hackenberg's departure already or is openly preparing for it. Freshman quarterback Jake Zembiec is slated to enroll early this January which in turn would give Penn State three quarterbacks to be excited about. The returning McSorely, Stevens and a new face in Zembiec.
None of this is overly surprising but on an afternoon set to answer fairly basic questions about Penn State's future on offense, the biggest news may have been Franklin and company acknowledging what everyone already knows to be true.
The Christian Hackenberg era is all but officially over. And on December 16, 2015 the Penn State football program finally admitted it.