Hackenberg Goes Pro
By: Connor Lenahan
With a sprained shoulder in the 2nd quarter of today’s bowl game. That’s how Christian Hackenberg’s Penn State career will come to a close. I’m not sure many would have guessed that would be the last chapter, yet here we are.
This isn’t exactly a shocking development from Hack. Penn State wasn’t exactly the perfect place to play the last two seasons. Coaching turnovers, actual turnovers, complete shifts in team mentality, a stunningly improved Big Ten, and possibly the weakest offensive line in the NCAA has made the team a bit hard for the last two years. Although it wasn’t outward, it seemed like Hackenberg wasn’t happy with the James Franklin era.
It’s hard to blame him, honestly. He committed to Penn State when the coach was Bill O’Brien, the former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, specializing in the neo-West Coast offense that has turned Tom Brady into arguably the best quarterback in league history. This was exactly what Hack wanted. He got that for an incredible freshman season.
Then James Franklin took a more SEC-option style approach to the offense. This was interesting, especially given the difference in player styles. Hack isn’t Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow, or Johnny Manziel. He’s more like Philip Rivers, Brady, or Blake Bortles. He’s got a cannon arm, but he can’t escape a defensive end for his life. That means he might not be Aaron Rodgers, but then again only Rodgers is Rodgers.
But most of all here this jump to the pros is a happy one. That is, for everyone. Hackenberg thanked everyone except for Franklin in his announcement this afternoon. That can likely be tied to a fundamental disagreement between the two on the offensive game plan. So Hack gets to jump to the pros, likely gets to take one of the starting gigs around the league from a team in need, or is the presumed successor to someone else – so think Houston, San Diego, Cleveland, New Orleans, New England, Kansas City, Denver, etc. with either no current long term plan or a need for a future plan – with a more traditional pro offense. Franklin gets to move forward with Trace McSorley, a QB more suited to Franklin’s style. But best of all, Penn State gets to move on.
Yes, Christian Hackenberg did a lot of good for the program. He was a talented player that did a lot for the team for three years. He had moments of great success, and also widely underperformed for others. It’s okay to have both, because both are true. The last two years have been fairly rough on the offensive end.
If Franklin wants his more option-esque offense to be the move, then Hackenberg isn’t the quarterback for that team. He is happier in a system in which he thrives (and personally agrees with) and Franklin gets to build his team, because it appears as though Penn State is going to be his for a long time.
Thanks for everything Hack, but it’s time for us both to go our separate ways. It’s time, and it’s best for everyone.