Bill O'Brien has his quarterback of the future.
Four-star prospect Christian Hackenberg has given Penn State a verbal commitment, Fork Union, Va., Military Academy announced on its website Wednesday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions also picked up someone to try to shut down the opposing team's passing game when it received a pledge from four-star cornerback Ross Douglas of Avon, Ohio.
Hackenberg, an NFL-style pocket passer, is considered to be a major get for the Nittany Lions. Alabama, Florida, Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia were among a host of colleges who had offered him a scholarship, and ESPN lists him as one of the top 150 prospects in the 2013 recruiting class.
As a junior, Hackenberg threw for 2,164 yards and 20 touchdowns in 10 games. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder completed 171 of 341 passes and was intercepted 16 times.
Hackenberg also connected on more than half his pass attempts for better than 1,000 yards as a sophomore.
Although he's playing his scholastic ball in Virginia, Hackenberg has strong area ties. His father, Erick, was a Big 33 selection out of Marian Catholic in 1988 who received a scholarship to Virginia before transferring to Susquehanna.
"For him the biggest thing is the ties there,'' Erick Hackenberg told ESPN. "He grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania and we lived there until he was 7 years old. His grandparents are still there. We have lots of ties to the area and he grew up on Penn State football. He grew up around it.''
Hackenberg is the first verbal commitment the Lions have gotten in this recruiting class. He and fellow Virginia four-star prep Ryan Burns were the only two quarterbacks extended scholarship offers by O'Brien's coaching staff. It's unclear whether or not Penn State might look to sign two quarterbacks in this class, but analysts who follow Lion football recruiting closely consider it unlikely both Hackenberg and Burns would be brought in - Penn State could be pursuing a lower-rated quarterback or a dual-threat quarterback to complement Hackenberg.
Hackenberg's commitment is considered a major boost in the Lions' efforts to secure a top class and attract other top recruits. The father of Cedar Cliff's Adam Breneman, the No. 1 tight end prospect in the country, told the Mirror two weeks ago that his son was keeping an eye on Penn State's attempts to land a top quarterback and that it would play at least some role in his decision.
A 5-10, 180-pounder who has timed at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash and possesses a 35-inch vertical jump, Douglas had 14 offers at the time he committed to the Nittany Lions. Boston College, UConn, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Syracuse and Tennessee were among the other schools pursuing him.
Douglas was third-team Division II all-Ohio and led Avon to the state finals, where it lost to Trotwood-Madison.