Hackenberg comes from an athletic family — his father, Erick, played football at the University of Virginia and Susquehanna University and his mother played volleyball at Lehigh University. Furthermore, while she may not be related by blood, his girlfriend, Tatum Coffey, played for the Nittany Lions' lacrosse team.
He Loves the Tri-State Area
Christian Hackenberg's first ever college start in 2013 took place at his new home — MetLife Stadium. He led the Nittany Lions to a 23-17 win over Syracuse, throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns. The following season, he threw for 371 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-30 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Boston College at Yankee Stadium. Seems he already feels comfortable at home.
He Survived Boot Camp
OK, not actual boot camp, but Hackenberg thrived in Jon Gruden's QB camp. In fact, Gruden said, "I'll be shocked if Hackenberg is not a first-round pick." While he may not have been selected in Round 1, his talent was not overlooked.
"Hackenberg threw for 3,000 yards as an 18-year-old kid in an NFL offense that is hard to execute," Gruden writes. "I do not think people are giving him enough credit for that. The alert signals they had when Bill O'Brien was coaching him were straight out of the New England Patriots playbook."
Before becoming the head coach at Penn State, O'Brien was the quarterbacks coach for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
"For a freshman to be given that type of autonomy at the line of scrimmage is unusual," Gruden continued. "When you see the same plays from the same formations that the Patriots are running, with the same audible mannerisms, you are like, 'Wow, this is cool.' "
He's an Ordinary College Kid
Hackenberg has a normal college life off the field and he takes full advantage of that. Across the street from Beaver Stadium is Penn State's intramural sports building. Every weekday afternoon, he and some of his teammates partook in basketball class with 25 students. Instructor Michael Morse highlights his humbleness along with his athletic ability.
"At any point Christian could've overtaken the game, he could've kind of done whatever he wanted," Morse said. "I've had LaVar Arrington in class, I've had Allen Robinson in class, I've had Sean Lee, Nate Stupar and NaVorro Bowman. I've had some studs and I mean it sincerely when I say Christian out of everyone I had is something special."
While Morse's jaw dropped as Hackenberg dunked and drained three-pointers, what Morse really admired was his desire to help others. "He is really gifted and yet in the flow of games he involved kids that were far less talented. He made others feel like they were part of the team."
His Competitive Nature Is Anything but Ordinary
Whether Hackenberg is on the gridiron or not, his competitive switch is constantly on. Hackenberg's teammate, Garret Sickels, cannot stand playing Xbox with him. Against the trainers' wishes, Hackenberg would not let off the gas in summer basketball class. While he may be competitive off the field, his work ethic on the field is second to none.
As a freshmen, Hackenberg showed up an hour early to workouts and spent extra time with the receiving corps. He wanted to earn the trust of everyone on the team and refused special treatment because of his five-star rating coming out of high school. His roommate said when he is not watching tape, he is always available for football questions.
Five-Star Recruit, Zero Ego
Hackenberg was given all the reasons to have an ego bigger than Beaver Stadium, yet it is nonexistent. He consistently attends guest speakers on campus, talking to them afterwards, complimenting their lessons. Additionally, he uses his stardom to affect lives in a positive way.
Hackenberg's basketball instructor has a friend suffering from Parkinson's disease and cancer. Along with two teammates, he decided to visit Morse's friend.
"He made this guy that he'd never met before feel like a million bucks," Morse said. "Anthony ended up telling ghost stories, they were bantering back and forth … this guy wrote me a letter to thank me for one of the best nights of his life."