From a depth chart standpoint, Beau Pribula had a normal first season at Penn State.
Like all true freshmen who come to a school of Penn State’s caliber, Pribula arrived after a fantastic high school career in which he was twice named Pennsylvania Player of the Year while starting— and starring— at Central York.
Pribula fell into that category. He didn’t start in Year 1 and, in fact, didn’t get a snap in any of Penn State’s 13 games.
This didn’t surprise him.
“I feel like it’s the same for a lot of the players on our team,” Pribula told reporters at Penn State’s second-year player media availability this past Tuesday at Beaver Stadium. “All of us were really good players in high school. That’s why we’re here, and we just have to take on the challenge of playing at Penn State.”
So, in that sense, Pribula’s first season at Penn State was normal.
But a quarterback coming in at the same time as somebody like Drew Allar isn’t normal.
For a lot of schools, Pribula would have been the prized quarterback signee of his class. But not a lot of schools sign five-star quarterbacks, and that’s what Penn State did with Allar, the former standout from Medina, Ohio.
Being a quarterback has many advantages. Like anything else, it also has disadvantages. Singleton and Allen both made impacts as true freshmen partially because the running back position allows teams to use more than one player significantly.
This’s true for almost any position but quarterback.
With few exceptions, teams will have one guy as their nailed on starter, and every other QB will spend most of his game day time on the sideline.
For the next two years, Allar is expected to be Penn State’s QB1.
Plenty of Penn State fans and media have probably mapped out the future QB scenario in their head many times, especially in February, when last season is firmly in the past and spring practice is still roughly a month away. The map generally looks something like this.
- Allar is Penn State’s QB1 in 2023 and ‘24
- Pribula backs him up
- Allar declares for the NFL Draft when eligible after the ‘24 season, opening the door for the York, Pennsylvania, native to be Penn State’s starting quarterback, if he’s stuck around to that point.
But Pribula can’t control whether Allar lives up to his great hype or not.
What he can control is himself.
At 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, Pribula has a solid physical build that should only improve as he gets older.
But what he wants to focus on more so is the mental aspect of the position.
“I want to put an emphasis on the film room, Pribula said. “High school to college is a lot different mentally. You have a lot more to focus on, whether it’s protections or reading coverages… So I think I’ve really taken that and really tried to grind on. Because that’s probably the biggest change from high school, something I really wanted to get better at and I think I definitely I’ve improved in that area.
Pribula was Penn State’s scout team quarterback last season. Spring practice is still weeks away, so it’s unclear whether Pribula will retain those duties as Penn State’s likely second-stringer. For Pribula, quarterbacking the scout team was beneficial last season because he frequently went against what he felt was one of the best defenses in the country.
“I think, being able to learn and just kind of sit back and go against the defense at different speed and just giving them a look,” he said. “I enjoyed doing it, and I think I got better.”
Although Pribula and Allar are competitors in the QB room, they’re friends away from the field. That friendship started when both got on campus last winter.
“We came in together, both early enrollees, both quarterbacks,” Pribula said. “We connected right away… I would say we’re really good friends. We help each other out a lot, and we compete against each other.”
More than a year after Pribula and Allar arrived on campus, both have learned a lot and have improved at their craft. So, now that winter workouts are underway, has Pribula’s mindset changed now that the experience isn’t as new to him anymore?
“It really hasn’t,” he said. “When I came in, I made the decision on what type of mentality I wanted to have. I wanted to be a competitor, I wanted to be true to myself, and it’s really stayed the same. I don’t have a change in how I act or anything. I really want to be consistent. I really want to be consistent and really just take it day-by-day.”
Pribula knows how good his classmate and friend can be.
He knows that Allar’s big reason— if not the No. 1 reason— that this is the most excited fans have been for a Penn State season in years.
Pribula knows that, the better Allar plays, the less playing time he’ll get.
But Pribula also knows that he can’t worry about that, at least not when Week 1 is 204 days away.
“I’m not focused on the season or the depth chart right now,” Pribula said. “I’m really just focused on bettering myself.”