PSU’s Hackenberg named league’s top freshman

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year on Tuesday.

The quarterback put up impressive numbers all season to earn the Thompson-Randle El Award. He finished with 2,955 yards passing, 20 TDs to 10 interceptions and completed 58.9 percent of his passes.

His yardage total was the third-most ever at PSU, behind only Matt McGloin (3,266 in 2012) and Daryll Clark (3,003 in 2009).

“It was a lot of ups and downs, really just trying to fight through it coming in only in the summer and trying to pock up everything,” Hackenberg said on Big Ten Network.

Hackenberg finished the season by throwing for 339 yards and four touchdowns to lead Penn State to a 31-24 win at Wisconsin. He called that win and the four-overtime victory against Michigan his best moments.

“The most important thing that I learned, you’ve got to just continue to work each week,” he said. “Each week’s a grind, each week’s a new challenge with the defenses that we face in this conference.”

He said the area he grew the most throughout the season was in the mental aspect, being able to recognize defenses and how that translates to running the offense.

Hackenberg said his biggest challenge was “just being able to handle all the expectations that came with being a quarterback at a place like Penn State.”