If Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg wasn’t considered among the nation’s elite signal-callers, he’d probably have a lot more time for a vacation this July.
Instead, his month has been — and will continue to be — mostly business, as the junior is finishing up a week-long stint as a counselor at the prestigious Elite 11 Finals and Nike’s The Opening.
Setting the pace in yoga class counts as “business” too, or at least it does for Hackenberg. He’s not only mentoring young high school recruits alongside big names like Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and USC’s Cody Kessler, but stretching and muscle group buildup is now very important for a guy who got sacked 44 times last season.
The quarterback will then head from Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., to the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., which takes place from July 9-12.
Hackenberg will join Kessler, Cal’s Jared Goff and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan as camp counselor among a couple dozen other collegiate starters across the country. The Academy previously welcomed Heisman winners Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel as counselors.
The Manning Passing Academy is entering its 20th year. It mostly puts campers through football skills work but also will host NFL and college speakers to address nutrition, injury prevention and eligibility requirements. The Manning brothers, of course, will be in attendance, as well as father Archie.
Most attendees, ranging from eighth grade to high school seniors, are quarterbacks, but some are receivers, tight ends and running backs. And from relatively humble beginnings two decades ago, in which the camp (then stationed at Tulane) hosted 185 young players, this year’s camp has expanded to a reported 1,200 campers from 47 states and Canada.
It’s a good place for Hackenberg to teach, learn and network — the camp famously doesn’t list its alumni, but it’s assumed many modern pro quarterbacks participated at some point.
However, the timing of both camps indicates Hackenberg will miss Saturday’s Penn State Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life event, and has only a short time “off” before he presumably heads to Big Ten Media Days in Chicago at the end of the month.
His team seems to have a good handle on the Lift for Life, however, with over $75,000 raised so far and a good deal of excitement in the community.
“We want to raise as much money as we can,” said Uplifting Athletes Penn State Chapter president and senior linebacker Ben Kline. “But we also want to make sure that we’re doing it in an environment that’s good for all the players and focus on where that money goes, not so much how much goes there, and about how much impact we can make in the community and how much awareness we can raise.”