Ever since Bill O'Brien accepted the job as head coach of your Houston Texans a little more than two years ago, there has been some combination of hope, talk, speculation, and/or horror expressed about the idea of Christian Hackenberg finding his way to Houston. Despite the success O'Brien has had in two seasons here, the Texans remain in dire need of a quarterback. With Hackenberg declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft, you can be sure that you'll be reading a ton of new hope, talk (for some Hackenberg analysis by Mike Mayock, click here), speculation, and/or horror expressed about the former Penn State signal-caller reuniting with the former Penn State head coach in Houston.
For his part, Hackenberg has done nothing to dissuade observers from the idea that he still holds O'Brien in high esteem and would welcome a reunion with his old coach in the NFL; check out who the first person Hackenberg thanked was when he announced he was leaving Penn State for the NFL. Today, CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd has a piece out that examines what Hackenberg is doing to prepare for the draft process. Although the story ostensibly focuses on Hackenberg studying under Carson Palmer's younger brother, it mentions O'Brien in far more than simple passing, going so far as to state that Hackenberg's "...inner circle wouldn't mind if O'Brien and the Houston Texans...took Hackenberg."
A few excerpts that should make the ears of Texans fans perk up and may inform their analysis a bit more about the prospect of Christian Hackenberg becoming a Texan after two disappointing years at Penn State:
...Recall that he honored his five-star commitment to then-Penn State coach Bill O'Brien despite the crippling Jerry Sandusky penalties.
He didn't transfer after his freshman season following O'Brien's NFL exodus. He loved Penn State too much. For better or worse, he endured the start of the James Franklin regime.
Three of the offensive linemen who protected Hackenberg as a freshman are now in the NFL; each succeeding season, his yards and accuracy decreased. Last year, only 12 teams allowed more sacks than Penn State's 39.
It's complicated. All of Hackenberg's numbers were achieved with a diminished roster due to those NCAA sanctions. But he did achieve, at times. None of it needs to sound like an excuse.
"Take Jared [Goff] or Connor [Cook] and put them on Penn State the last two years," Christian's father Erick said, referencing the prospects at Cal and Michigan State. "They don't make it through."
The inner circle wouldn't mind if O'Brien and the Houston Texans -- desperate for a quarterback -- took Hackenberg, who has been rated a second-round prospect.
"What people don't understand, playing right away, that's a tough job in college," Christian said. "I was fortunate where I was in a really good situation. I had an awesome coach. I had a great experienced O-line, and I had a dude [Allen Robinson] at receiver."
Hackenberg remains insulated 2,600 miles away from Penn State. His agent -- a former Nittany Lion, Rich Rosa -- is such a family friend he is referred to as "uncle." Erick Hackenberg is, well, a dad -- his son's biggest advocate.
He says O'Brien once told him the only quarterback to pick up his system so quickly "is going to the Hall of Fame." That would be Tom Brady.
"Christian ran an NFL system at 18," dad said. "[Others] didn't do it with 50-man scholarship roster. He did.
"This is why Christian is hard for a lot of people to evaluate."
This is only the tip of the iceberg in the Hackenberg-to-Houston chatter that'll envelop us for the next three months. That said, at this point, would you support the Texans selecting Christian Hackenberg in the 2016 NFL Draft? If not in the first round, what about the second round?