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QB Waters picks Kansas State over Lions

December 14, 2012
By Philip Cmor ( , The Altoona Mirror

With Jake Waters headed to Kansas State, Penn State still is looking for a junior college quarterback that can enroll in January.

Welcome to the party, Tyler Ferguson.

Waters, the National Junior College Athletic Association player of the year who seemed to be leaning to the Nittany Lions, announced at a press conference at Iowa Western Community College on Thursday morning that he would be attending Kansas State. Now multiple Internet sources are reporting that Ferguson, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound signal-caller from Bakersfield, Calif. via the College of the Sequoias is next in line for the Nittany Lions, received a scholarship offer from Penn State and will be making a decision today.

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"I really liked both schools. I connected with both coaching staffs, and I could see myself playing at both," Waters said after donning a Kansas State baseball cap at his press conference. "But, at the end of the day, it was just what I felt in my gut."

Waters, who broke Cam Newton's NJCAA single-season completion percentage record in leading the Reivers to a national championship, admitted that Penn State had at least a slight lead a few days ago. Lions coach Bill O'Brien visited Waters at his home on Monday. Kansas State had its in-home visit with Waters on Wednesday, although the Iowa Western quarterback said the Wildcats' later visit had little impact on his decision.

"I told the coaches I was pretty much leaning there. I just thought it over again, and something clicked. God just showed me a sign that K-State was the place for me," Waters said.

Waters visited Penn State for the Indiana game. Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier gave Bill O'Brien high marks for his efforts and even gave the impression he thought there was a strong possibility his star was going to play the next two years for the Nittany Lions.

"It's unbelievable what Coach O'Brien has done, what his staff has done in this whole recruitment process. Jake left impressed. He was impressed out of his mind when he went on his visit there with the fans at Penn State, the support at Penn State," Strohmeier said. "He said, 'I don't care if we play in a bowl game. We play in front of 100,000 fans every week.

"I've got to give credit to what Penn State's done. They didn't pressure him. They said, 'Jake, we want you here,' and I think that really won him over."

With Waters off the board, the Lions' eyes appear to have turned to Ferguson. Ferguson had committed to Houston Thursday morning and then changed his plans when he learned of Waters' decision and got his Penn State offer. He was hastily trying to set up a weekend visit to Penn State but told the Mirror on Thursday night that he expected to make a decision sometime early today - Ferguson already has met with Penn State quarterback coach Charlie Fisher.

A 2012 graduate of Ridgeview High School, Ferguson completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 2,614 yards and 22 touchdowns this fall for the Giants. He was picked off 12 times, and Sequioas went 4-6.

Ferguson would have four years to complete three years of eligibility at Penn State if he were to commit to the Lions. That would put him in direct competition with Steve Bench, who saw limited action as a true freshman as Matt McGloin's backup this season.

Penn State has received a verbal commitment from one of the top prep quarterbacks in the Class of 2012, Fork Union's Christian Hackenberg. It seems likely, though, that the coaching staff would like to redshirt him.

In addition, Penn State is expected to bring in a walk-on quarterback. One of the more prominent names that has surfaced for that role is Austin Whipple. Whipple, who played at Pine-Richland in Gibsonia last year and at Salisbury, Conn. in 2012, is the son of Cleveland Browns quarterback coach Mark Whipple.

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