Player of the Week #3: Christian Hackenburg Penn State

Sometimes when there is an over abundance of some thing one or more of the good things fall through the cracks and be forgotten. For instance, in the 1960s there were a number of great British Rock Bands on the charts in the USA. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones dominated while a few really good bands like the Animals or the Zombies didn’t get the media attention that they deserved.

It’s a good time for Quarterbacks in college football right now. Obviously, in spite of personal problems off the field for the top 2 recent QBs, they still get all the publicity. Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel are the most talked about QBs since the days of Tim Tebow.

Then, there’s Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley and Taylor Casey out West. In the Midwest, there’s Braxton Miller. In the South, there’s Nick Marshall, Bo Wallace and, of course, Jameis Winston.

 

He’s not forgotten, but Christian Hackenburg didn’t get near the attention he might have in other circumstances.

 

Kerry Collins or Todd Blackledge might be considered the best Qbs in Penn State history.

 

Blackledge’s Nittany Lions team won the National Championship in 1982 with an impressive win over the outstanding Georgia Bulldogs and Herschel Walker. He never put up huge numbers, but that was a problem with the system and not with Blackledge. The Penn State offense was a well oiled machine while Todd

Blackledge was running the show.

He was the 7th player taken in the famous 1983 QB draft.  Drafted ahead of the Hall of Fame QBs Dan Marino and Jim Kelly. Blackledge was nearly prototype NFL size at 6-3,225. He’s now a color analyst with ESPN and does some of the better weekly games for the network and does an outstanding job for them in my opinion.

 

Kerry Collins is generally regarded as the very best QB in Penn State history.

 

Collins last season at Penn State in 1994 did not end in a National Championship, but that was hardly his fault. Collins did everything he could as his team wound up 12-0. PSU was unfortunate enough to have an undefeated season the same season as the Nebraska Cornhusker had one of the most impressive National Champion teams of all time and just obliterated everyone they faced. Collins threw for 2,679 his senior season and threw for 5,304 career yards while he was at Penn State. kerry collins

He was drafted as the 5th pick in the draft by the Carolina Panthers. Like Blackledge, Collins was the prototype NFL QB except even more so at 6-5,245. The NFL loves big and especially tall QBs to line up behind the Center.

 

Neither QB was extremely successful in the NFL. They weren’t total busts and they played a while, but they were not even close the level they were expected to be, or seemed to warrant their high selections in the NFL draft.

 

Different time and different day, but Christian Hackenburg threw for more yardage as a true freshman than either Collins or Blackledge did as a senior. Of course, both Collins and Blackledge played for the famous Joe Paterno and Hackenburg played for new Penn State coach, Bill O’Brien.

Now, Hackenburg will play for the next Penn State Head coach, James Franklin.

Franklin is not known for wide open offenses, but then again he has never had anyone of the caliber of Christian Hackenburg.

 

James Franklin took a job that most coaches probably would not touch. Nothing against Vanderbilt, but it’s tough to win there.

They haven’t exactly had a lot of success in football over the last century or longer. Franklin went in there and did things that nobody else has ever done.

He took Vanderbilt to 3 straight bowl games in his 3 seasons in Nashville. Vanderbilt was his first head job and he just killed it.

He will do the same and even more at Penn State where he can recruit the nation and bring in some talented athletes to match Christian Hackenburg.

 

Hackenburg was either the #1 or #2 pro style QB in the land depending on which recruiting service you believe, ESPN, Rivals or 247. He never really put up the huge numbers like Florida’s Will Grier. But, his numbers were good enough and he has that size that the NFL scouts love, 6-4, 220.

 

Most impressive stat of all about Christian Hackenburg is that he was the Big 10 Freshman of the Year as an 18 year old. He did not turn 19 until February 14th of 2014.

I don’t know what you were doing during your 18th year of your life, but I am pretty sure most of us weren’t Quarterbacking a major college football team. Spare me the ‘it’s only the Big 10’ nonsense, it’s a good conference and plays competitively against the SEC. I am not saying it’s as good as the SEC, but they are a competitive conference. Christian Hackenburg threw for 2,955 yards and 20 TDs as an 18 year old true freshman.

 

Look for the Nittany Lions to have great seasons under James Franklin and Hackenburg to make most All American teams and struggle with the decision to stay in college or leave for the NFL. More than likely, he takes the money and bolts but Penn State fans need to enjoy him while you can. His replacement is probably already on campus in freshman Michael O’Connor a 6-5, 225 incoming recruit from Bradenton, Florida.

 

After this season, Jameis Winston probably leaves for the NFL. Braxton Miller, Nick Marshall and Taylor Casey are seniors and will be gone. Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley will declare for the NFL.

It’s not going to be Christian Hackenburg by default because he is a very good QB. But, Hackenburg should be the first team All American QB in 2015 and a front runner for the Heisman Trophy.

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