Christian Hackenberg's explanation for why his passing production declined over his last two years at Penn State reportedly isn't sitting well. The quarterback has pointed the finger of blame at PSU coach James Franklin in discussions with personnel executives from at least two NFL clubs, according to the Monday Morning Quarterback.
"Despite the fact that it's probably true, you don't want to hear a kid say that," a source told the publication.
Hackenberg's most productive college season came under former PSU coach Bill O'Brien, now of the Houston Texans, in 2013. Though he was only a true freshman at the time, Hackenberg flashed great promise under O'Brien in passing for nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. In two years under Franklin since then, his completion percentage declined and he threw just 12 touchdown passes in 2014 with 16 in 2015. Poor pass protection and, at times, Hackenberg's own hesitancy in the pocket, led to 82 sacks over those last two years, as well.
Speculation that Hackenberg's relationship with Franklin was strained rose in early January when the quarterback announced he would apply for early eligibility into the 2016 NFL Draft. He thanked more than half a dozen people from Penn State, including O'Brien, in his formal statement announcing his draft intentions, and Franklin was not among them. At the NFL Scouting Combine, when pressed about the statement, Hackenberg insisted his relationship with Franklin is fine.