Penn State Football: 3 Things That Make Christian Hackenberg Special
Everyone knows the elaborate recruiting rankings and accolades, but to put in simple terms Christian Hackenberg is a special commitment for Penn State football.
Attracted to Penn State by the style of Bill O'Brien's offense, Hackenberg along with tight end Adam Breneman have been the focal points of the 2013 recruiting class.
Hackenberg, a 5-star prospect (via Rivals) who showed extremely well at this summer's Elite 11 quarterback camp, has so much to offer as to stand out from the rest of the pack.
Yes, this is a high school kid we're talking about here, but his ceiling is so high that it's hard not to rave about him.
With that being said, let's take an extensive look at three reasons why O'Brien and Penn State is getting a special player in Hackenberg.
First-Class Physical Tools
While looking at recruiting rankings are nice, Hackenberg's talent isn't appreciated until his skills are watched on tape.
And believe it, his physical superiority is worth watching.
Standing at 6'4'', Hackenberg uses his size and broad shoulders to his advantage in sticking to his mechanics.
Despite being a tall guy, Hackenberg is able to square his shoulder on virtually every pass he makes, and he loves to stretch the field vertically.
Sure, he can effectively nail a receiver in stride on a five-yard out, but Hackenberg's at his best when he's chucking deep, giving his receivers time to run under the ball for big plays.
While a strong arm and pinpoint accuracy are obvious traits he possesses, Hackenberg's sneaky mobility around the pocket is a huge plus.
He's not a typical scrambling quarterback by any means, but the Virginia native knows when to escape the pocket, and he does it with relative ease.
And while he could work on consistency with his footwork, no high school quarterback is perfect mechanically.
But out of the 2013 class, Hackenberg is the closest thing to flawless.
Uncanny Pocket Presence
So he has all the physical tools, but does Hackenberg have the ability to stand behind his offensive lineman and be aware of the entire field in front of him?
On obvious passing downs, will he be able to handle blitzing linebackers and athletically gifted defensive ends bull-rushing off the edge?
If his tape tells any of the story, the eventual Nittany Lion should be just fine. Keeping his eyes downfield at his targets at all times, the signal-caller always looks poised and confident in the pocket.
That includes when the defensive front seven is in his face.
When blitzed, Hackenberg shows an uncanny pocket patience and calm decision-making that isn't normally associated with a high school senior.
Hackenberg keeps his head on a swivel at all times, and it doesn't look like anything fazes this kid—something that's hard to teach.
He "Gets It"
So let's see what we've got so far with Hackenberg:
Has the physical tools to succeed? Check.
Possesses the natural awareness in the pocket to make smart decisions? Check.
While he's great with a football in hands, the last thing to love about Hackenberg is actually located off the gridiron.
First, step back and take a look at the situation Hackenberg was in before committing (and even still as a verbal) to the Nittany Lions. The most obvious thing to realize is Hackenberg could have went to virtually any school in the country.
With scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida and South Carolina, Hackenberg could have taken his talents elsewhere, especially after the sanctions came down.
However, he "gets it," so to speak.
Not only does he love the offense O'Brien runs, but the quarterback has bought into the system of Penn State football and has embraced all facets of it.
Whether it's singing praises of the university before enrolling or recruiting through Twitter other players who may be considering the Nittany Lions, Hackenberg has become an ambassador for Penn State.
And, so while the 5-star rankings are cool and look good on paper, it's what Hackenberg has done off the field so far that's made him a respected person around Happy Valley.
Just wait until he's able to strap on the pads.