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May 11, 2012
At the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge there will be plenty of high-profile athletes who will be trying to lure undecided prospects to join them at their college of choice.
"If they want to talk to me about Penn State I will be very happy to give them my opinion," he said. "But I think that each person should make the decision for themselves. I want to respect their privacy because I have been through it and it was hard enough without hearing from other guys."
For the record, Hackenberg loves the Nittany Lions.
"It is a program that few can compete with in tradition," he said. "I think that Coach (Bill) O'Brien is going to be able to revolutionize what has already been accomplished. Build from that past but in a new way.
"I am very excited to be a part of it but I am not going to try and give my opinion to everyone, unless they ask."
What the 6-foot-4 pro-style quarterback does want to get accomplished at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta is to build chemistry with the other Penn Stater that will be in attendance, tight end Adam Breneman.
"I am really excited to get there and work with Adam," he said. "It will be great to get to start building some chemistry with him since we will be going in together."
As the lone quarterback representing the East, Hackenberg will have to get comfortable with an entire group of new players. It is a challenge that he thinks will mimic the early days on the collegiate level.
"I will have to adjust a little more quickly than I will in college but it will be similar," he said. "It will be neat to be out of my comfort zone and work with so many of the best players on the East coast."
Heckenberg plays three sports at Fork Union (Vir.) Military Academy and will be coming to the inaugural event fresh off of his baseball season, and with playing basketball he has not thrown a football much in the last six months.
The throwing motion could present the No. 8-ranked quarterback a challenge in the early repetitions of the June 22-24 event.
"It will be a different motion from pitching," he said. "Hopefully I will be able to get into the slot quickly. I am an athlete so I am not worried about it too much."
Once Hackenberg gets into a rhythm the plan is to showcase the throws he likes to throw.
"I really like the intermediate routes," he said. "I have good arm strength and can go deep but the 15- to 20-yard outs, and comebacks, are the throws I really like to throw.
"In a 7-on-7 setting those are passes that you have to be able to throw, too."
It is that competitive setting that the No. 153 player in the Rivals250 thinks can start to separate players.
"You can see who wants to be there, I think," Hackenberg said. "I want to lead a group of competitive guys to win the event. So I hope they are ready to come out and play hard."
Mike Farrell's take
Hackenberg is a talented kid who plays at a school known more for post-grads than for high school prospects. He was impressive at the U.S. Army Combine and I'll be very interested to see how he does in Atlanta. He will be working with future Penn State teammate Adam Breneman which will be exciting to see and he'll have some big targets to work with as well as some speed. Some have him ranked as the No. 2 quarterback in the country but there is also a debate about whether he's the top quarterback in his own state, so there are many opinions out there about his ranking. This will be a great opportunity to shoot up the ranks if he does well and he has all the tools to be a great one.