Christian Hackenberg Named Big Ten Freshman of the Year
Since his first game in blue and white uniform, Christian Hackenberg has continued to improve and convince Penn State fans that the future is very bright for the football program. His record-breaking season came to a close Saturday against Wisconsin, but the accolades for the freshman quarterback are still rolling in. On Tuesday, Hackenberg was named the Thompson-Randel El Big Ten Freshman of the Year for his stellar performance.
The Freshman of the Year nod comes on top of the five Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors that Hackenberg earned over the course of the season. He finished his freshman campaign with 2,955 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 231 completions, good for second in the Big Ten.
Besides his instant classic drive against Michigan, Hackenberg’s best performance overall came on Saturday against Wisconsin. Against one of the better defenses in the nation, Hackenberg led the Nittany Lions to a 32-21 victory over the No. 15 Badgers, passing for 339 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. It was his fourth game with 300 yards or more passing, tying him for most in a single season at Penn State with Matt McGloin (2012).
Bill O’Brien was impressed with his quarterback’s performance this year. “He’s had a remarkable year” O’Brien said. “To come here as an 18-year-old freshman with such high expectations and to be able to learn this offense and do the things we have asked him to do, I think he got better every game.”
Hackenberg was humble in his acceptance of the award and was already looking ahead to next season. “It was a lot of ups and downs, really just trying to fight through it,” he said. “Really just coming in early in the summer and trying to pick up everything. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had a lot of great guys around me and a great coaching staff that really helped me succeed and build upon my skill set and they’re gong continue to do over the next couple years.”
Hackenberg was the third Nittany Lion selected for this honor, joining Deion Barnes (2012) and Curtis Enis (1995).