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Two-Sport Athlete Mac Hippenhammer Impresses for Penn State

by on September 13, 2018 8:27 PM

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer found the end zone on his first career reception during Penn State football’s resounding victory over Pitt last Saturday.

Hippenhammer hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game to help the Nittany Lions win their second consecutive meeting with the Panthers.

He’s one of many talented wide receivers that Trace McSorley has to work with on offense, but he stands out from the rest due to his unique athletic experience in Happy Valley.

Hippenhammer is a position player for Penn State’s baseball team in addition to his duties as a wide receiver for the Nittany Lions. He grew up playing both football and baseball and his father encouraged him to play both sports for as long as he possibly can.

Playing two sports at the collegiate level seems like a nightmare in terms of time management, but Hippenhammer said that has actually been beneficial for his career. A lot can change over the course of four years, but for now, he plans to play baseball for the rest of his collegiate career.

“I think playing any sport at the collegiate level helps,” he said. “When I played baseball, it gave me confidence transitioning from baseball to football. Actually playing a collegiate sport at that level helped me build confidence.”

Hippenhammer, naturally, looks up to Bo Jackson, who played baseball and football professionally. Jackson spent the late 1980s splitting his time as a running back for the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders and an outfielder and designated hitter for the MLB’s Kansas City Royals.

“I really look up to him, how he’s handled both sports, and he’s just really good at both,” Hippenhammer said. “I had a great opportunity to do both here, so I took it.”

Coach James Franklin spoke highly of the Fort Wayne, Ind., native after practice Wednesday, praising his work ethic and talent as a two-sport athlete.

“He managed the baseball responsibilities, the academic responsibilities, and still getting some work with football, really well,” Franklin said. “He’s one of those athletes where you can say something to him and he can transfer it to the field. He’s just a natural athlete.”

Franklin also noted that Hippenhammer understands the game of football very well, whether that’s in practice or in games. Spacing, concepts, and drill work have always come naturally despite his size, according to the head coach.

Penn State has plenty of talent ahead of Hippenhammer on the depth chart at wide receiver, including Juwan Johnson, DeAndre Thompkins, Brandon Polk, and KJ Hamler. Patience is a virtue for the two-sport athlete, who said he always makes sure to be realistic with himself and be aware of the depth Penn State has at wideout.

“[Mac]’s a hard worker,” Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley said after the Blue-White game. “He was up at 4:30 with us running and in the afternoon he was doing batting practice with the baseball team. His athletic ability is through the roof.”

Despite this, Hippenhammer’s background in baseball serves him well moving forward as a football player, regardless of how his talents are utilized. He rates himself as the fourth-fastest wideout on the Nittany Lions behind Thompkins, Hamler, and Polk.

Hippenhammer’s self-proclaimed “sneaky” speed could help him find a role on special teams in the near future.

“If they need me [to return kicks] I’m always ready,” he said. “I’m an outfielder, so that stuff is kind of easy to me.”

Andy Mollenauer is a Penn State student and a writer for Onward State.
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