UMass Coach: Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg Has No. 1 Pick Potential

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September 15, 2014

Christian HackenbergMark Whipple knows a thing or two about quarterbacks, so his praise of Penn State signal-caller Christian Hackenberg shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Whipple and his UMass Minutemen will have to find a way to slow down Hackenberg and the Nittany Lions when the two teams meet Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley. The 0-3 Minutemen would be up against it regardless of who was under center, but Whipple sees Hackenberg as a legitimate NFL prospect.

“He’s going to be the first player picked. If he could come out this year, he’d be the first player picked,” Whipple said, according to MassLive.com. “He’s the true sense of a quarterback and he’s a little more athletic than you think. He reminds me of the guy I had at Pittsburgh with the Steelers.”

That “guy,” of course, is Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Whipple’s first tour of duty with UMass ended in 2004 when he left Amherst to become the Steelers’ quarterback coach. Whipple also logged NFL time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns, which makes the praise for Hackenberg even more impressive.

As MassLive.com also points out, Whipple has a connection to Hackenberg. Whipple’s son Austin was Hackenberg’s roommate during his time at Penn State.

“I’ve seen him play every single game, I’ve seen his practice habits, I’ve seen him in the meeting room, I’ve seen the way he worked with (former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien),” Whipple said, according to MassLive.

“He’s the real deal.”

Hackenberg is a big reason the Nittany Lions have jumped out to a 3-0 start this season. The Virginia native has completed 62.2 percent of his passes this season to go along with four touchdowns. The sophomore has totaled at least 309 yards through the air in each of Penn State’s three games this season.

Photo via Jim O’Connor/USA TODAY Sports Images

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