The excitement for Christian Hackenberg’s sophomore season continues to build, as SportsonEarth recently pegged him as the nation’s 36th-best college football player in its list of the top 100.
The only Nittany Lion who earned a spot on the extensive list was Hackenberg. From Matt Brown, who compiled the ranking:
Hackenberg was exactly the type of quarterback scouts pegged him to be out of high school — a bit uneven at times, but tremendous arm strength and the ability to develop into a dominant pocket passer. What was most impressive about his freshman season was his poise and command of the Penn State offense, which really set him apart. Hackenberg completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 2,955 yards with 20 touchdowns and 10 picks, getting better as the year went on, playing his best game (339 yards, four TDs) in an upset win at Wisconsin to end the season. With O’Brien gone, along with star wideout Allen Robinson, plus a very thin offensive line aside from Donovan Smith, Hackenberg faces some major hurdles as a sophomore. Based on what we’ve seen so far, though, he’s the type of quarterback who will make everyone around him look better.
Some direct competition bested Hackenberg on the list, as Ohio State quaterback Braxton Miller placed eighth. But Hackenberg outranked the other Big Ten QB on the list, as Michigan State’s Connor Cook was up at No. 96. Overall, Hackenberg was the seventh-best quarterback of the list’s 13. A pair of QB’s actually topped the list in Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston.
Hackenberg has received a good deal of preseason recognition, earning spots on watchlists for both the Maxwell Award (which recognizes the best player in the nation) and the Davey O’Brien Award (for the best quarterback). Tackle Donovan Smith was mentioned as a player who just missed the cut, and he’s also been placed on the Outland Award watchlist.