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Monday, January 14, 2013
Lions spotlight: Christian Hackenberg

By Josh Moyer

Every weekday until signing day, NittanyNation will break down a commitment from Penn State's 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Fork Union, Va./Fork Union, 6-foot-4, 212 pounds

Christian Hackenberg
Christian Hackenberg is the top-ranked quarterback in the ESPN recruiting rankings.
Committed: Feb. 29, 2012

ESPN.com grade: 88. Four-star prospect.

ESPN.com rankings: No. 15 in ESPN 150, No. 1 overall quarterback, No. 2 player in region, No. 1 player in state

Picked Penn State over: Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech and others

State of the position: Fifth-year senior Matt McGloin is currently trying to make it to the NFL, and his departure means a battle for the starting job at QB. Rising sophomore Steven Bench is the only returning signal-caller and threw just eight passes in 2012 games. Tyler Ferguson enrolled early and is a juco quarterback, and D.J. Crook and Austin Whipple are both preferred walk-ons who enrolled with Ferguson.

Pros: "Hackenberg is a dropback passer with good size who has room to add more strength and bulk. He shows good pocket mobility to slide and avoid the rush and is a deceptively good athlete. Possesses a very high ceiling for physical development. ... He stands tall in the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield and when he sees things open up, he will drive the ball with pressure in his face with a high delivery. Very good quickness in his drop, gets good depth and comes to balance smoothly at the top." -- ESPN scouting report

Cons: His to sidearm delivery may be an issue at the next level, however, and he does not consistently maximize his height. Shows flashes of very good arm strength and a live arm, but is more of a finesse, touch/timing passer who does not really open it up on throws. ... He must continue to show he can consistently work through progressions and not have mental lapses with bad throws into coverage. He is inconsistent in this area." -- ESPN scouting report

Similar to/potential role: He couldn't enroll early, so he's likely to redshirt this season and take the year to learn under Bill O'Brien and Charlie Fisher. Hackenberg's father prefers he redshirt, and Hackenberg said he wouldn't argue with the staff if they felt he wasn't ready.

Expected impact: 2014. He's undoubtedly the quarterback of the future and he won't be sitting on the bench for long. He should be at least a three-year starter and, with O'Brien's offense, expectations are already high enough that he's expected to break several long-standing school records. He has all the tools; he just needs to get to know the playbook and improve upon reading defenses.