To say he lived up to that hype would be an understatement. And now he has been rewarded for his production.
Hackenberg, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times during his rookie season, was tabbed conference Freshman of the Year Tuesday. He is only the third Nittany Lion to win the award, joining running back Curtis Enis (2005) and defensive end Deion Barnes (2012).
"Coming in in the summer and trying to pick everything up, I didn't know what to expect," Hackenberg told the BTN. "But I had a lot of great guys around me and a coaching staff that helped me succeed this year."
Hackenberg ranks third in the Big Ten in passing yards with 2,955. He has 20 touchdowns to go against 10 interceptions, and has completed 231 of 392 passes. Only Illinois senior Nathan Scheelhaase has completed (287) and attempted (430) more throws.
Monday, Hackenberg's favorite target was honored by the league. Record-setting receiver Allen Robinson was named Big Ten Receiver of the Year.