Former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is one of the most polarizing and intriguing members of the 2016 NFL Draft class, but he has one fan in particular.
That fan is Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who coached Hackenberg during his freshman season with the Nittany Lions. Speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where Hackenberg is currently showcasing his skills for NFL scouts, O’Brien fully endorsed Hackenberg as a fine individual and prospect.
“First of all, he’s a great kid,” O’Brien said. “He comes from a great family. We enjoyed recruiting him. I’ve known him since he was 17 years old, when he was at Fork Union (Military Academy). I’ve known him for a long time. I know his parents, his brothers. He’s a humble kid. He’s talented, smart. Good guy to be around and I enjoyed coaching him his first year at Penn State.”
It’s worth noting that Hackenberg’s freshman season, played under O’Brien in 2013, was the best of his college career. He completed nearly 59 percent of his passes for 2,955 yards and had 20 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. O’Brien then left for the Texans and Hackenberg regressed greatly under his successor, James Franklin, and saw his completion percentages drop along with his touchdowns and yardage.
That said, in terms of there being any bias on O’Brien’s end, the Texans coach downplayed that.
“Naturally, I know him a little better,” O’Brien said. “It doesn’t mean I evaluate him any differently. It just means that I’ve been around him a little bit more.”
It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how Hackenberg’s NFL future looks after the Combine ends next week, because not even an endorsement from a former coach may be enough to salvage his stock.
Stay tuned to Campus Sports for further updates on Hackenberg’s path to the pros!
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports