It’s safe to say that Christian Hackenberg’s NFL career did not go the way he, nor many high-level evaluators, expected. At just 25-years of age, the former five-star prospect and No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation’s days in the league appear to likely be over.
However, Hackenberg still has the hunger to compete at a high-level and is hoping that the saying “when one door closes another opens,” reigns true in his case. Even if that door leads to an entirely different sport altogether.
Hackenberg Eyeing a Move to Baseball
Hackenberg hasn’t played baseball since his high school days at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Yet, that’s not stopping the one-time highly thought of NFL prospect from eyeing a return to the diamond.
“As simple as I can put it, I just want to compete man.” Hackenberg said in an interview with NBC Philadelphia prior to his workout. “I’ve had my trials and tribulations with the NFL… had that rollercoaster ride. At the end of the day, I’m sitting here at 25, and for me… I feel like I have a lot left in the tank.”
Rob Kuestner of NBC 10 in Philadelphia has since shared multiple videos of Hackenberg’s workout, with the one-time NFL hopeful seemingly putting truth behind his statement of still having a lot of juice “left in the tank.” Kuester claims Hackenberg was throwing better than 90 mph during his pitching workout.
As Kuestner noted, Hackenberg appears to be training under the watchful eye of Ryan Kulik, a former MLB pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals & Colorado Rockies, and the current head baseball coach at Rutgers University Camden.
From All-Time QB Prospect to NFL Bust
To put into perspective how highly-thought of Hackenberg was as a quarterback prospect, we have to go back to the 2013 high school recruiting rankings. Per The Ringer, the guy ranked above Hackenberg [Derrick Henry] in 247Sports’ composite rankings went on to win a Heisman Trophy, while “the three guys below him were all first-round NFL draft picks.”
Hackenberg went on to commit to Penn State, where he started and starred as a true freshman. Heisman Trophy and future 1st-overall draft pick chatter quickly engulfed the star quarterback. However, as his collegiate career went on, he began to digress, struggling to read defenses and showing inconsistent accuracy.
Still, his high-end traits were good enough for the QB-hungry New York Jets to take a shot on him in the 2nd-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Despite hopes of him becoming their franchise signal-caller, New York traded Hackenberg to the Oakland Raiders in 2018. The QB would bounce around various practice squads for the remained of his NFL career, never once taking a regular-season snap.
Hackenberg did reemerge in the now-extinct AAF, where he was drafted by the Memphis Express in the second round. However, much like the league, Hackenberg’s time as the team’s starting quarterback was short-lived. He was replaced by another former NFL QB, Zach Mettenberger, in Week 3, after numerous horrendous showings. Hackenberg finished his AAF career completing a combined 32 passes of 62 attempts with three interceptions and zero touchdowns.
Here’s to hoping Hackenberg’s second career goes a whole lot better than his first.
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