Christian Hackenberg Declares For The 2016 NFL Draft
After three years at the helm at Penn State, Christian Hackenberg, the face of Penn State’s program, will move on from the University and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Hackenberg, a junior, had mixed results on the field this year, but despite growing whispers that he might be better off staying, the decision should come as no surprise, as pundits across the country speculated that he’d declare for the Draft prior to the season. He enters as the No. 4 quarterback in the 2016 draft class according to Bleacher Report.
The announcement came after the TaxSlayer Bowl, a game that Hackenberg left in the second quarter after sustaining a shoulder injury. The game ended as a 24-17 loss that brings Hackenberg’s final record as a Nittany Lion to 21-17.
The former five-star prospect has been arguably the most important player in school history, re-affirming his commitment to Penn State after the NCAA’s sanctions. Hackenberg, along with other members of the 2013 recruiting class, and former Head Coach Bill O’Brien, were crucial to keeping the team afloat when many thought there was no hope. Under Hackenberg, Penn State never finished a season with a losing record.
While he never really lived up to the Herculean expectations placed on him, he showed a marked improvement in 2015, throwing four more touchdowns and 10 fewer interceptions than in his sophomore campaign. Though he didn’t have many opportunities to show it in 2015, Hackenberg was best in crunch time situations, and will likely be remembered most fondly for his comebacks and game-winning drives against the likes of UCF in Ireland, Rutgers in 2014, Boston College in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl, and of course, the four overtime victory against then-undefeated Michigan on Homecoming in 2013.
Hackenberg broke numerous school records during his time at Penn State, setting the single-game passing record with 454 yards against UCF to start the 2014 campaign, and owning the all-time marks in touchdowns with 48, and yards with 8,457. All three of his seasons were also in the top-10 for passing yards in a season.
With Hackenberg’s departure, the starting quarterback job will likely go to Trace McSorley, who has been the team’s back-up this year, filling in remarkably after Hackenberg went down in the bowl game. However, there may be a battle for the starting position, as the Nittany Lions will have plenty of talent at the quarterback position in 2016, with current freshman Tommy Stevens, and Jake Zembiec, who was a highly-touted 2016 recruit that will enroll at Penn State this semester.
Best of luck in the NFL, Christian! Thanks for your commitment to the University, and all you’ve done for the football program.