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Christian Hackenberg Looks to Launch Professional Baseball Career

by on June 15, 2020 1:27 PM

Former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is shifting professional gears from football to baseball in hopes of taking his arm talents to the big leagues as a pitcher.

Hackenberg appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia this weekend to discuss his new career ambitions and show off his arm. Despite claiming the No. 2 spot on Penn State football’s all-time passing list, Hackenberg never appeared in a regular-season NFL game. He bounced around between the Eagles, Jets, Raiders, and Bengals during his brief NFL career and hasn’t been on a roster since 2018.

Despite a bumpy road so far, Hackenberg doesn’t think the end of his NFL career is the conclusion of his professional sports career altogether.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot left in the tank,” Hackenberg said. “And if one door closes and I have the opportunity to open another one, why not do it?”

Although Hackenberg’s been known for slinging the pigskin, he has some experience on the baseball diamond. According to his MaxPreps page, he played three years of high school ball and had a .378 batting average throughout his career.

However, he seemed to have struggled on the mound, racking up a 7.36 ERA in 16 appearances. Hackenberg said he understands making the transition will be difficult and that even elite athletes may only specialize in one sport.

“I’ve got too much respect for the game of baseball. I understand how hard it is to hit a ball,” Hackenberg added. “I got the arm. I have the arm talent. Can I get to the point where I have some good command and control? And can I get to the point where I’m out competing at a high level where I think I belong? Mentally is what I miss the most, I think.”

Things seem to be going well so far for the Nittany Lion. He’s joined forces with Rutgers Camden baseball coach Ryan Kulick and other pros at a pitching facility in New Jersey. Hackenberg is already hovering around the 90 mph mark with his pitches and has even cracked 92 a few times.

“But he just started throwing. It’s going take him some time,” Kulick said. “I think he can get to 95-plus in no time.”

Ryan Parsons is a Penn State student and a writer for Onward State.
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