Column: The Next Big Thing
Opinions have been flying every which way the past few weeks concerning Nittany Lions true freshman quarterback, Christian Hackenberg. Early on, the main argument surfacing was whether or not the 6’4” QB from Fork Union, Virginia, was worthy of his ranking as the second-best QB in the Class of 2013 (as per Yahoo! Rivals).
Many non-believers called him ‘overrated’, citing a lack of experience. Others said there was no way he could effectively run a pro-style offense for a top-tier college football team. I’m here to tell you Christian Hackenberg is the real deal, and why you’ll be hearing his name for years to come.
“You gotta be the rock, you gotta be the foundation, the leader,” said Hackenberg on Wednesday. He has definitely been that rock in his early career. After three weeks of play, Hackenberg has already been honored TWICE by the Big Ten as Freshman of the Week (Weeks 1 and 3).
During his first game starting under center for Penn State, he completed 71% of his passes (22/31) for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Even though his two TDs were supplemented with two interceptions, Hackenberg led the Nittany Lions to a 23-17 win over the Syracuse Orange in front of 61,000 fans at MetLife Stadium.
In the second week of play against Eastern Michigan, Hackenberg completed 70% of his passes for 311 yards. Once again he demonstrated his tremendous potential during State’s 45-7 rout of Eastern Michigan. However, during Week three, Hackenberg really shined. Not only did he complete 21 of his 28 attempts (75%), but he also threw for one touchdown, and 262 yards.
The difference between this effort and the previous two weeks, was this was the first time in his young career that he had to play from behind. Hackenberg valiantly led the Nittany Lions back into the game, but still suffered the 34-31 loss. Even though he didn’t come out on top, Hackenberg earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the second time in three weeks.
Hackenberg is the real deal. At 18 years old, Hackenberg is the signal caller for an offense, which is mainly run in the National Football League.
“[You have to] focus in on getting really good at the basics of the offense and once you get the basic understandings of it, then you can start going into more complex details,” Hackenberg said. Not only is he running the offense effectively, but he has a poise about him seen only in veteran quarterbacks.
He has enough arm strength to hit passes downfield with ease, and the size to make him a force to be reckoned with. One aspect he has to work on is his decision making, but as a true freshman, he can only improve. Expect to be hearing the name ‘Christian Hackenberg’ a lot in the coming years.
Connor DeKranis is a freshman majoring in communications. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.