Top recruit hopes O'Brien stays

Updated: December 30, 2012, 9:25 PM ET
By Mitch Sherman | ESPN.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- No. 1-rated quarterback prospect and Penn State recruit Christian Hackenberg said Sunday he's confident that coach Bill O'Brien would not leave the school for opportunities in the NFL.

"I mean, I'm hoping," Hackenberg said as he prepared to begin workouts on Monday for the Under Armour All-America Game at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports. "I've got my fingers crossed."

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Sunday that O'Brien may be on more short lists for NFL teams -- including the Cleveland Browns and Philadephia Eagles -- than Oregon coach Chip Kelly, according to league sources.

The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Hackenberg said he spoke with O'Brien about NFL jobs "a month or two ago."

"He's not worried about it," Hackenberg, who is also the No. 16 player in the nation, said. "He's worried about coaching Penn State."

Hackenberg showed his loyalty to PSU by sticking to his commitment, made in February, through the July revelation of NCAA sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Penn State was banned from the postseason for four years and docked 40 scholarships over the same period.

The quarterback cited his relationship with O'Brien and Penn State quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher as a primary factor in his decision to stay with the Nittany Lions.

"My parents felt comfortable handing me over to them for four years," Hackenberg said. "I really felt a connection with those guys and felt a comfort level with them that I had nowhere else."

If O'Brien left before signing day on Feb. 6, Hackenberg said he would reconsider his options.

"I'd think about it," Hackenberg said. "He was a big part of it. He's the guy who's going to develop me. That's one of the big things I looked at. I'll see what happens."

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