In a move that surprised practically no one, Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg was named a team captain for the 2015 season. The news was reported on Twitter.
This isn’t really a surprise, as it is not uncommon for college teams to name the starting quarterback a team captain, but one would think that Hackenberg would at least be on the captaincy bubble after such an underwhelming sophomore season. In his first season playing under James Franklin, Hackenberg threw for 2,977 yards but has 15 interceptions to just 12 touchdowns. Keep in mind that the year before, while throwing for 2,955 yards, Hackenberg had 20 touchdowns to just 10 picks.
Granted, last season can be attributed to a weak offensive line and a poor receiving corps, but it was still enough of a step back that there was concern about Hackenberg’s future prospects, both on the collegiate and professional levels. But that apparently hasn’t kept Hackenberg out of a positive light with both his teammates and the coaching staff, and his earning a captaincy this season appears to be their way of saying, “We’re willing to write off last season as a fluke. Get back on the field, lead this team and show the critics that you can help Penn State win!”
The captaincy should only be a secondary confidence booster, however, as WalterFootball also has Hackenberg projected as a top draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft. With his stock rising, a captaincy and an entire offseason to get better acquainted with Franklin’s system, the stage is set for Hackenberg to have a bounce back year and silence the critics, with his being a team captain the mere cherry on top.
Now, all he has to do is show that he can handle it.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports