Christian Hackenberg, ESPN's top-rated quarterback, had his pick of schools, but he couldn't say no to Bill O'Brien and Penn State.
The No. 16 prospect in the nation committed Feb. 29 and experienced a senior season that saw him come up just short, 35-14, in the state championship. He finished the successful year with 2,149 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 54 percent completion rate.
He received his Under Armour jersey on Sept. 21 in front of an auditorium full of cadets at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. Hackenberg recently discussed his expectations for the Under Armour All-America Game, which will be played at 5 p.m. Jan. 4 and will be televised on ESPN:
NN: What do you hope to accomplish at the UA Game?
Hackenberg: I'm just looking forward to having fun and to compete again and play. It's a good opportunity in my career, and I pretty much accomplished everything I wanted to do in high school other than this. So I just want to build some relationships with people, and I hope to learn a lot.
NN: Which prospect who you've never met do you want to meet and why?
Hackenberg: You know, I'm not sure. I guess I'll have a chance to go down there and see. I like to get out there and get to know as many people as possible because you don't know when you'll see them again or play again. So I don't really have any names in particular, but I think it'll be cool. I'm looking forward to seeing some guys I met through the Elite 11, too.
NN: What's the best advice you got going into the UA Game?
Hackenberg: It probably would've come from a lot of people -- but it's just how you have to get used to the speed of the game. It's a big step, and I think this game will be a preview of it, and I'll be able to adjust there and get to see it with live bullets flying at you. I've seen it at the 7-on-7 level, but I haven't seen that kind of speed at this level.