Franklin pulling for Hackenberg, even after QB snubbed him

Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg thanked just about everyone except his head coach when he declared for the 2016 NFL Draft earlier this month.

The omission was perceived as a slight against the Nittany Lions' James Franklin, as the QB thanked Penn State's previous coach, Bill O'Brien, who recruited him to PSU, and many others without a mention of Franklin.

Franklin says the relationship between he and Hackenberg isn't ice cold, though.

The coach told reporters on Saturday that Hackenberg called him the day after the perceived snub to say thank you.

"First of all, I'm really happy for Christian and his family and wish him nothing but success as he prepares for his future in the NFL," Franklin said, per the PA Media Group. "Christian called me the day after announcing (for the NFL) and we had a great conversation and was very appreciative.

"He thanked me and the staff for everything they have done. And we had a great conversation on the phone.

"I think Christian is going to go on and do wonderful things, I'm very, very supportive of that. But I was glad that Christian picked up the phone and called me the next day."

So, Franklin says move along, nothing to see here. However, there have long been rumblings about friction between him and the QB, as Hackenberg never delivered on the promise he showed as a freshman in 2013, when he was coached by O'Brien. His production declined when Franklin took over in 2014, and after two disappointing seasons, his Penn State career came to an end when he left the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl with an injury. He announced his intentions to enter the 2016 draft as an underclassman after the game, and thanked plenty of people not named James Franklin in the process.

NFL teams interested in Hackenberg are sure to dig into his background leading up to the draft, and Franklin no doubt will be one of the people those teams call on in their research. Despite Franklin's attempt to extinguish the storyline on Saturday, it's a safe bet that his own relationship with the QB will come up in those conversations.

If Franklin changes his tune at that time, Hackenberg could have more to answer for when he sits down with potential future employers.

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks ranks Hackenberg as the fifth-best QB in this year's draft.

Follow College Football 24/7 on Twitter @NFL_CFB.

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