Back on February 29, 2012, Penn State football picked up its first verbal commit of the 2013 recruiting class: Christian Hackenberg.
It was coach Bill O’Brien’s first huge impact made on the recruiting scene, and of course, Hackenberg is a quarterback.
While his ratings and rankings seemed overwhelmingly great then, the signing of a letter of intent by Hackenberg almost a year later is more surreal than his original verbal.
Hackenberg, a pro-style gunslinger from Fork Union Military Academy (Va.), could have opted to attend virtually any college across the country.
However, Hackenberg bought into O’Brien’s offensive scheme that puts the signal-caller in position to make efficient and effective plays down the field and in the short passing game.
He not only bought into the coaching staff but also the university, and now he has the chance to establish something great in Happy Valley in the eye of the sanctions storm.
First of all, the 6'4" pocket passer has the opportunity to become a signature pro-style quarterback that rakes in accolades.
In the past, Penn State hasn’t been viewed as a quarterback factory in the slightest and for good reason.
Sure, Matthew McGloin had a nice run last season, Daryll Clark lost only four games in the blue and white and Michael Robinson led the Lions to a BCS bowl victory less than a decade ago.
However, Penn State has always been known for a consistently staunch defense bolstered by future NFL linebackers, not like an offense that rivals Houston or Texas Tech every year.
With that being said, if Hackenberg takes the superior raw skills he possesses and applies them while at Penn State under O’Brien, he could change the perception of Penn State quarterbacks.
A change for the better in that respect would possibly attract more quarterback recruits to Penn State.
Regardless of a lack of focus on the man under center in the past, O’Brien’s offensive schematics coupled with any success Hackenberg has would undoubtedly make Happy Valley a more attractive place to play as a signal-caller.
However, even more important than changing the perception of Penn State as an offensive school is helping to lead this program out of the sanctions and “dark cloud” surrounding the program.
Facing scholarship restrictions among other hindrances, Penn State isn’t supposed to win these next three years.
However, if Hackenberg can help lead Penn State to winning seasons the next few years, he could become one of the Lions’ most respected and beloved players in recent memory.