Posts tagged ‘Christian Hackenberg’

Twenty Years On, Still Perfect

I think I’m finally over my jet lag from five terrific days in Dublin, and just in time: There’s a home opener to be ready for.

The Nittany Lions’ meeting with Akron is notable for a few reasons, not least that it’s James Franklin’s home debut. But as both a 1995 grad and the guy who spent untold hours on the phone this past spring and summer with members of the ’94 Lions, I can tell you I’m almost as excited about the reunion of Penn State’s last undefeated team as I am about the game itself.


Carter, Collins, and Brady, three of the stars of the unstoppable ’94 offense.

Alumni Association members by now should have their copies of our Sept./Oct. issue, which features that great shot of Ki-Jana Carter ’95 on the cover, and, inside, an oral history on that team’s epic comeback win at Illinois. While the magazine piece focuses on the Illinois game—well, really the whole trip to Champaign, a surreal experience that the players, coaches, and managers recount in the issue—it’s just an excerpt from our much larger oral history of the ’94 Lions, tracking that squad from raw recruits into arguably the greatest offensive team in college football history. I spoke to nearly 30 guys for that one, and it was very much a labor of love. If you haven’t already, you can find the entire piece over at The Football Letter Blog.

The reunion is well timed not only with the 20th anniversary of that team, but with the emergence of true sophomore Christian Hackenberg as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Hackenberg’s record performance against UCF in the season opener, following his terrific freshman season, has some people wondering (prematurely) how he ranks with the best QBs in program history. Well, the guy who tops that list, Kerry Collins ’94, is expected back this weekend, as are arguably—key word here—the best running back (Carter), receiver (Bobby Engram ’95), tight end (Kyle Brady ’95) and offensive line in school history. There are lots of worth guys in the argument at all those positions, but the fact that so many guys from that one team are in the discussion tells you just how phenomenal that team was.

For so many reasons, it’s impossible to compare this year’s team—still limited by sanctions, and with a brand new coaching staff—to Joe Paterno’s veteran, talent-laden ’94 squad. But based on some of the things I heard repeated time and time again by Carter, Collins, Engram, Brady and nearly everyone else I spoke to from the ’94 squad, there’s plenty that this year’s Lions would be well to mimic: Work hard, put aside egos, never doubt what you’re capable of, and never miss a chance to laugh. Solid advice for any football team—and, I suppose, for life in general.

Ryan Jones, senior editor


September 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm 3 comments

Photos from Penn State Football’s ‘Signature Event’

Our pal Curtis Chan ’94, ’03g, who works over in the College of Engineering and who does a little sports photography on the side, took some photos for us last night in the Jordan Center, at the “Signature Event” that new football coach James Franklin staged to celebrate Penn State’s success on National Signing Day. We thought you might enjoy seeing some of them; here’s a quick slide show:

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Thanks for the images, Curtis!

Tina Hay, editor

February 6, 2014 at 5:47 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Dec. 17, 2013

Cool cats: Hey, it’s snowing in State College today. It’s been doing a lot of that lately. On Saturday (when it was also snowing), our friend Bill Zimmerman from the Public Information office in Old Main got this terrific shot of a couple of Lions frolicking in the white stuff. If you haven’t already seen it, enjoy.

Lions in Snow

Honored, again: QB Christian Hackenberg and tight end Adam Breneman have been named True Freshman All-Americans by 247 Sports, the latest postseason honors bestowed on members of the Nittany Lion football team. If you’re scoring at home, the list from just the past few days includes all-Big Ten honors for eight players from ESPN and BTN; first-team All-America notice from CBS Sports and the Sporting News for junior receiver Allen Robinson; and team MVP honors for senior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones.

Dog, gone: Readers of a certain age will remember Nipper, the attentive dog whose iconic image became the symbol for record-player manufacturer RCA Victor. For more than half a century, a stained glass version of Nipper—four of him, actually—overlooked the city of Camden, N.J., from his perch atop the RCA Victor factory. Those windows came down more than 40 years ago, and somehow one of them ended up at Penn State. Today, the Daily Journal has the story of how the window we’d kept in storage on campus recently returned home to South Jersey. It’s a fun story, not least because the historian charged with the window’s safekeeping is named Pane.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

December 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Dec. 9, 2013

A record weekend: Senior guard Maggie Lucas scored 30 points Sunday in a 77-68 win at Georgetown, in the process becoming just the fifth player in Lady Lion history to reach 2,000 points. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and a preseason All-American, Lucas (below) is on pace to pass Kahadeejah Herbert ’86, Tyra Grant ’10, and Susan Robinson Fruchtl ’92 en route to second place on the Penn State scoring list. The school record—2,919 points, set by Kelly Mazzante ’04—is probably safe.


Meanwhile, the top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestlers capped a 2-0 weekend with a 28-9 victory over Pitt—a “home” win, but not in the usual sense. Instead of grappling in their usual Rec Hall digs, the Lions hosted the Panthers in front of 15,996 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center, setting records for both the largest crowd to see an NCAA dual meet and the largest crowd to see a sporting event at the BJC. If you missed it, our resident wrasslin’ expert Lori Shontz ’91 has you covered.

More from Mitchell: Late Friday, former Sen. George Mitchell released his fifth quarterly report on Penn State’s progress in meeting the Athletics Integrity Agreement—and once again, the university received a glowing review. (more…)

December 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Dec. 4, 2013

Dreaming of a Blue Christmas: Actually, it’s no dream. The video below is the very real holiday light display set up by Robert Witt ’01 of Schwenksville, Pa. It started blowing up the internet yesterday, and it is something else:

I’m not gonna lie: I’m not sure I’d want to live right next door to that. But it is impressive work.

Hump day hoops: The 10th-ranked Lady Lions continue a tough non-conference schedule tonight when they host No. 4 Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The match-up marks the first meeting between Penn State coach Coquese Washington and her Fighting Irish counterpart, Muffet McGraw, but as the Daily Collegian tells us, the two have serious history: Washington played for and later coached under McGraw at Notre Dame, which won the 2001 national championship while she was an assistant.

The Nittany Lions fell at Pitt last night, 78-69, in their Big Ten/ACC match-up. It was a close game throughout, and an impressive showing for the Lions, who were playing their fifth game in 10 days. Pitt, unbeaten this season, is 106-3 all-time at the Petersen Events Center against non-conference opponents.

Getting a read: Americanah, a novel by the Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has been chosen as the Penn State Reads common book for the incoming class of 2014. (more…)

December 4, 2013 at 11:25 am Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Nov. 22, 2013

BOT updates: It’s the second day of committee meetings for the Penn State Board of Trustees. Senior editor Lori Shontz ’91 reported on yesterday’s topics of discussion, which included potential changes to the presidential search process, the structure of the board, and alumni trustee elections. Check the blog for more updates this afternoon, and to watch the meeting live, visit WPSU‘s live stream starting at 1:30 pm.

Courtesy of the Hackenberg family, via

Courtesy of the Hackenberg family, via

Big save: Recognize that little guy? He’s quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The photo was part of a fantastic piece featured on Grantland yesterday, in which Hackenberg’s parents, Erick and Nikki, talk openly about their son’s decision to commit to Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky scandal—and his role in helping to revitalize the program. Coach Bill O’Brien describes the moment when, after the NCAA sanctions were announced, Hackenberg and his teammates lined up outside O’Brien’s office to tell him they were committed to Penn State: “‘That,” says O’Brien, staring off into space, lost in the memory, ‘was an emotional deal.'”

Remembering JFK: Today marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and this morning, The Patriot News posted a collection of archival photos from JFK’s visit to Harrisburg in September 1960, and asked readers to identify themselves or others in the crowd. Recognize any Penn Staters?

Dancin’ on a Stair: If you haven’t been out to the Pegula Ice Arena for a hockey game, GoPSUTVs video of student Devon Fields dancing up a storm to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” at last Friday’s game just might be the best advertisement for the new arena ever. The Nittany Lions lost to UMass-Lowell that night — but I think we all know who won the unofficial dance contest.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

November 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

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