Penn State‚??s newest quarterback was on his way to play for Houston.
Tyler Ferguson had plenty of interest in the Nittany Lions, but another junior college signal-caller -- Jake Waters -- was first on their list.
So Ferguson made up his mind recently that his Division I home would be Houston.
That all changed Thursday morning.
Just as word leaked out that Ferguson had already given a verbal commitment to the Cougars, Waters announced that he was heading to Kansas State and not Happy Valley.
The scholarship that had been ticketed for Waters was now being offered to Ferguson.
That‚??s all it took. Not 24 hours later, Ferguson switched his pledge and is set to jump right into Penn State‚??s starting quarterback battle. As a junior college recruit, he can formally sign with the Lions and coach Bill O‚??Brien on Wednesday.
Ferguson has three seasons of eligibility remaining and -- most importantly for the Lions -- he will enroll at Penn State in January and be with the team for winter workouts and spring practice.
Aside from O‚??Brien, it was quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher who made the biggest impression on Ferguson, as the two stayed in contact throughout the fall.
‚??I felt amazingly comfortable with (Fisher) and I really want to play for him,‚?Ě Ferguson told ESPN on Friday.
The 6-foot-4 California native comes to Penn State from College of the Sequoias, where he played for one season. Ferguson and fellow sophomore-to-be Steven Bench now enter the new year as the favorites to replace Matt McGloin under center.
Penn State also has a verbal commitment from highly touted high school quarterback Christian Hackenberg, but the blue-chipper can‚??t sign until February and won‚??t be on campus until the summer. With less time to master the offense, Hackenberg would have a tougher path to the top of the depth chart in 2013.
Regardless of who ends up winning the job, the Lions are just happy to have some competition.
With McGloin and Shane McGregor graduating and Paul Jones transferring, Penn State had no one left on the roster to challenge Bench during spring ball.
That made it critical to land a JUCO quarterback this month -- a player with some experience who could start learning the offense right away.
For the better part of three months, Waters looked to be the favorite to fill that role. He took an official visit to Penn State with a teammate in November and told O‚??Brien he was ‚??leaning‚?Ě toward the Lions when the coach made an in-home visit on Monday.
But Kansas State got the final visit on Wednesday night and Waters pledged to the Wildcats the next morning, setting off the chain reaction that brought Ferguson to Penn State.
Both Ferguson and Waters went the junior college route not for academic reasons but to boost their stock after receiving limited interest from scholarship programs in high school.
It paid off.
By the fall, both were rated among the top junior college quarterbacks in the country, according to multiple recruiting services.
Ferguson‚??s Division I prospects were hindered when his senior season in 2011 was interrupted by a broken collarbone, causing interest in him to dry up.
With no scholarship offers coming his way, Ferguson elected to stay close to home and play at nearby College of the Sequoias as a freshman.
Waters is a year older and the more polished prospect of the two, having led Iowa Western Community College to a national championship this season.
While Waters broke Cam Newton‚??s junior college record for completion percentage in a season, Ferguson was just settling in with his new team, finishing the year with 2,614 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 10 games.
Ferguson becomes Penn State‚??s first junior college recruit since the Lions brought in Ako Poti and Nerraw McCormack in 2007 to provide depth on the offensive line.