Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Penn State's first 2013 commit a big one

By Adam Rittenberg

Penn State fans were getting a bit antsy about the fact new coach Bill O'Brien hadn't landed a verbal commit for 2013.

The wait is over, and Nittany Nation is celebrating.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg committed to Penn State on Wednesday, becoming the first verbal for an all-important 2013 class. Lions247.com first reported Hackenberg's commitment, and colleague Jamie Newberg confirmed it with Hackenberg's father.

Hackenberg, a member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List, is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound signal-caller for Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. He had received offers from Alabama, Florida, Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, among others.

This is a big get for Penn State, which needs quarterback help in the 2013 class. Penn State lost out on one-time verbal Skyler Morningweg, and while new quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher loves incoming recruit Steven Bench, the team needs more options. It's also significant for O'Brien, whose background as a quarterback guru should help Penn State upgrade the position. Hackenberg recently cited O'Brien's work with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as a big selling point. Hackenberg's father, Erick, played football at Virginia with Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, so Penn State certainly had some competition for Christian's services.

Two positions where O'Brien could make a major impact are quarterback and tight end, given the Patriots' success last season with tight end Rob Gronkowski. Penn State is in the mix for tight end recruit Adam Breneman, who grew up a Lions fans and recently took an unofficial visit to the school.

Penn State has a long way to go in 2013 recruiting, but Hackenberg's pledge is an excellent start.