O'Brien took the head-coaching job with the Houston Texans, and, after a 9-day coaching search, James Franklin was brought in to lead the Nittany Lions and have a hand in molding Hackenberg. The 18-year-old quarterback met with Franklin on Sunday and said yesterday he was ready to get to work.
"He was up front. He was honest with me," Hackenberg said. "He didn't really have to sell me on anything. I'm still here. This is where I want to play ball."
Even given his connection to O'Brien, known for his work with quarterbacks, Hackenberg said he did not consider leaving Penn State - even given the uncertainty about the head coach.
"I was just sitting down, talking with my parents," Hackenberg said. "I'm here. I don't plan on going anywhere else."
Hackenberg said he talked with O'Brien late in December when reports surfaced he might be interested in the Texans job. The two spoke again after O'Brien took the job, a conversation Hackenberg said was "tough," but he wished the coach luck in Houston.
This past season, Hackenberg threw for 2,955 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first collegiate campaign.
Like O'Brien, Franklin - a collegiate quarterback at Division II East Stroudsburg - is an offensive-minded coach, with stops as an offensive coordinator at Kansas State and Maryland.
"My philosophy is you go out and hire really smart people, and you have a system that has flexibility to take advantage of all your strengths and hide your weaknesses," Franklin said Saturday at his introductory news conference.
Hackenberg reiterated what his new coach said, and said he was pleased the offensive philosophy won't change too much.
"We have a lot of great tight ends, a lot of great playmakers outside, we have a great backfield," Hackenberg said. "I think the pro style really fits us best and he's going to do what's best for the team. He's done this before, he does this for a living."
Four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley switched his commitment from Penn State to Florida, according to published reports. The Brooklyn native, listed at 6-4, 299 pounds, was recruited by former Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson, who is now with Ohio State.
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