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Scrimmage Play Six: Christian Hackenberg
Scrimmage Play Six: Christian Hackenberg
As we gear up for the 2012 football season, we've partnered with the Newsplex to bring you the first ever Scrimmage Play Six Quarterback Camp. We put six members of one of the most impressive quarterback crops in a while in Central Virginia through the paces with Athlelite Factory's Joe Sanford running drills and a whiteboard session during a summer clinic. We also talked with each quarterback about their career up until this point and the upcoming season. Look for video on CBS 19 each night this week at 6 and 11 p.m.
He’s the most coveted quarterback product in the nation according a slew of media outlets, and more importantly, collegiate coaches. Christian Hackenberg entered the 2011 season with a handful of premier offers and the list only grew in the offseason. In February, he chose Penn State and his decision to stick with that commitment or weigh outside options after last week’s decision by the NCAA to allow all current and future Nittany Lions to transfer, is hands down the biggest story going into fall. But at the end of the day, as he stands right now, Hackenberg is Central Virginia’s most coveted athletic asset and he’s learning on a daily basis on how to deal with the relentless media and public attention.
“It’s definetly a double-edged sword, but a lot of fun if you can handle it the right way,” Hackenberg said. “If you handle it the wrong way, there’s a lot more pressure than you need. Ultimately though, when the camera’s in your face and the spotlight is on you, it’s about going out there and playing with the game plan. That’s how I look at it.”
In his first season at Fork Union as a sophomore, Hackenberg helped to lead Fork Union to a VISAA Division 1 championship. Last season, after a massive rebuild, he was the biggest figure coming back and injuries, new talent and an impressively brutal schedule (an annual occurance at FUMA) did not help the Blue Devils. But the team had its moments, including stepping out of Prep League play to go up against a public school giant in Powhatan where Fork Union handed the Indians, the Jefferson District champions, just one of their two losses. But it was hit or miss for the Blue Devils last year and Hackenberg and so many of his returning teammates, including most of the skill position players minus D.J. Randel El are returning with a different mindset.
“One game we were on fire and the next we’d come out flat,” Hackenberg said. “So last year helped me mature and also the guys that are returning. The new guys, they’ll understand our frustration from last year to get back to Fork Union football.”
Hackenberg came to the Scrimmage Play 6 clinic right off the heels of the single most desired camp for any soon-to-be collegiate quaterback, Elite 11. It was an entirely different offseason for the rising senior after he went through last summer trying to get his name out there in a variety of camps.
“The camps I went to last year were more team related and about looking to get offers,” Hackenberg said. “This year the camps were more for me about learning experiences, the closest things I can get to a college training camp. Having that experience and that competitive nature is the best thing I could have getting ready to go to college.”
Between Liberty Christian Academy, Woodberry Forest and the slew of out of conference foes that football coach and athletic director Micky Sullivan puts his team against each year, Hackenberg is no stranger to top level competition. But with that said, going to camps where its just the top 150 players in the county, not just the premiere athletes in the state, was a significant chance to add to his game.
“The guys you have around you can make plays and the guys you’re going against can make plays so you definitely have to bring your a-game every snap,” Hackenburg said of this year’s camp tour.
As FUMA awaits the start of the season, the quarterback is looking forward to offensive changes. The offense was put against the wall on a number of occasions to get away from what it is normally known for, pounding the ball. But with almost the entire receiving corps back and Hackenberg’s talent, 2012 won’t be a return to ’09 or ’10 where running backs had to carry the load overwhelmingly. This season looks to be a healthy mix.
“Last year we struggled we to run the ball so we obviously want to improve on that, but outside of that, it’s a lot of west-coast (offense) trying to spread the ball around into open space,” Hackenberg said. "We're tyring to get playmakers in space to make plays."
And Hackenberg and his teammates don’t have to wait too long to find out what this group is made off as they became the first Fork Union team ever to showcased on ESPN. The Blue Devils will head to Chesapeake to play Hermitage, a public Group AAA powerhouse out of Richmond with the kind of talent Hackenberg saw in camps both this year and last. For this quarterback and his teammates, it’s an honor to be in this spotlight as a team, not as individuals as the Blue Devils have pumped out an awful lot of state titles, collegiate and NFL talent.
“Fork Union’s definetly earned it for what they’ve had come out in the past and so it’s a great opportunity for us and we feal privledged to be the first Fork Union team to get this chance,” Hackenberg said. “I think it’s a big opportunity to try and get the momentum we need going into the season.”
Hackenberg is visiting PSU right now trying to solidify whether or not he wants to stick with the Lions, a level of decision that very few athletes ever have to make, much less an athlete of his caliber. But once he and his family come to a decision, the rest will be relatively simple. There’s little question that Fork Union’s most recent top-level talent just wants to play football and be done with the rest. And football fans, both this year and next, look forward to seeing Hackenberg showcase his skills.