Nobody would hold it against top 2013 quarterback prospect Christian Hackenberg if he were to jump off the sinking ship that is Penn State football, especially in wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the subsequent Freeh Report.
Hackenberg is rated as the No. 16 overall prospect according to ESPNU and is one of the only reasons Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class is ranked where it is at No. 14 in the country. Amidst everything that the PSU football program has endured over the past year, many outsiders wouldn’t think twice if he were to de-commit and look elsewhere to avoid the fallout. However, Hackenberg plans to uphold his verbal commitment and play under new head coach Bill O’Brien.
The top-rated quarterback committed on the last day of February, well after the Sandusky sex abuse scandal shocked the college football world. Since the scandal first broke plenty has happened since; the harrowing trial, the new allegations and gut wrenching truths that all culminated in the Freeh Report that was released last week.
Because of the scandal there is still the possibility of sanctions from the NCAA and President Mark Emmert that could jeopardize Penn State football’s immediate future.
But through all of this Hackenberg is still standing by his commitment based on his relationship with O’Brien and his desire to learn under a coach with experience coaching one of the best in the game for the past three seasons, Tom Brady. Another reason Hackenberg plans to keep his word is to try and start something new at Penn State along with the other recruits.
There is only one way that Hackenberg would change his mind and that would only happen if the NCAA handed Penn State the death penalty. Any other less significant sanctions that would be handed down would not deter his verbal committed status.
Hackenberg was heavily recruited by Alabama, Miami and South Carolina and could have chosen any one of those destinations but decided to opt for the challenge. He has a daunting task ahead of him as he tries to give Penn State something to cheer for post scandal but it seems that he is willing to stand up to the challenge and lead the Nittany Lions back from one of the most unprecedented scandals that any sport has ever seen.