Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) has been named the Big Ten Conference's Thompson-Randel El Freshman of the Year, giving the Nittany Lions consecutive winners of the honor.
Hackenberg was selected Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times this season, including each of the past two weeks, the second-highest total for a player since the award began in 2010. Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia) was the conference's 2012 Freshman of the Year. They join tailback Curtis Enis (1995) as Nittany Lions to be selected the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, which is named for Darrell Thompson (Minnesota) and Antwaan Randel El (Indiana).
Hackenberg joins three players from Coach Bill O'Brien's squad who were named first-team All-Big Ten on Monday, as well as nine Penn State players who received honorable-mention all-conference honors. Hackenberg, junior Allen Robinson, the two-time Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year, and seven of the nine honorable-mention selections return for the 2014 campaign.
"It's a great honor, but I have to give much of the credit to a lot of different guys throughout the year - the coaching staff, the receivers and the offensive line," said Hackenberg. "This is something to build upon."
"He's had a remarkable year," O'Brien said. "To come here as an 18-year-old freshman with such high expectations and to be able to learn this offense and do the things we have asked him to do, I think he got better every game. He's got a chance to have a very special career at Penn State."
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year was first awarded in 1986. Over the past 27 years, Penn State (2012 and '13), Purdue (1989-90), Michigan (2003-04) and Wisconsin (2009-10) are the only schools to have the Freshman of the Year in consecutive seasons.
Earlier this week, Hackenberg was selected Athlon Sports' National Freshman of the Week and Big Ten Freshman of the week after throwing for 339 yards and four touchdowns in Penn State's 31-24 win at No. 14 Wisconsin. He also was selected honorable-mention All-Big Ten.
For the season, Hackenberg was 231 of 392 for 2,955 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in completions, his 20 touchdown passes are one off the Big Ten lead, and he is 0.5 yards from being No. 2 in passing (246.2 ypg). He had 14 completions of 40 yards or longer this season, which ranks seventh nationally and leads all freshman signal-callers nationwide.
Hackenberg broke one Penn State overall and 10 school freshman game or season passing records this year, including game (30) and season completions (231), game (340) and season passing yardage (2,955) and game (4) and season (20) touchdown passes. He also broke freshman marks for game (55) and season passing attempts (392) and the number of 200-yard (9) and 300-yard (4) passing games.
Hackenberg posted his ninth 200-yard passing game this season in the win over Wisconsin, moving into third on the Penn State single season list, trailing only Kerry Collins (10, 1994) and Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin (11, 2012). He had four 300-yard passing games, topped by 340 yards at Indiana, which ties him for the most in a single season at Penn State with McGloin (2012).
The former Fork Union Military Academy All-American threw for 2,955 yards this season, moving into third place on the Penn State single-season chart. He passed Anthony Morelli (2,651 yards) and Kerry Collins (2,679) vs. Wisconsin and trails only McGloin (3,266, 2012) and Daryll Clark (3,003 in 2009) on the season list.
Hackenberg's 231 completions rank fourth at Penn State in a season, one behind Daryll Clark's 232 completions in 2009.
On Monday, Penn State junior Allen Robinson (Southfield, Mich.) was named the Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year for the second consecutive season. Robinson, senior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (Johnson City, N.Y.) and senior guard John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) were selected first-team All-Big Ten, with Robinson and Urschel earning the honor for the second straight year.
Nine Nittany Lions earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition, seven of whom return for 2014: Hackenberg, junior cornerback Adrian Amos (Baltimore), senior linebacker Glenn Carson (Manahawkin, N.J.), junior placekicker Sam Ficken (Valparaiso, Ind.), senior center Ty Howle (Wake Forest, N.C.), sophomore tight end Jesse James (Glassport), sophomore cornerback Jordan Lucas (New Rochelle, N.Y.) junior defensive end C.J. Olaniyan (Warren, Mich.) and sophomore tackle Donovan Smith (Owings Mills, Md.).
Penn State finished the season with a 7-5 mark (4-4 in Big Ten), and has won 15 of its last 22 games under second-year coach O'Brien. The Nittany Lions return 16 starters for the 2014 season (8 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist).