Ranking the Big Ten’s top 5 quarterbacks for 2015

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Dec 27, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) drops back to pass against the Boston College Eagles during the first quarter in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

3. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

Many people see Christian Hackenberg as the second-best, or maybe even the best, quarterback in the conference and maybe in the entire nation. As crazy as it sounds, some top-level “experts” and scouts have mocked Hackenberg in a way-too-early 2016 draft as the No. 1 overall pick.

There may be no possible way that happens, especially after the year he had in 2014. The Penn State offense was as lethargic as they come last season and Hackenberg seemed to be on the wrong side of a lot of turnovers as well as criticism dished out by fans and the media.

Coming in as one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation for the 2013 class, Hackenberg knew that he would have a huge target on his back. That was quite evident last season when he was sacked a conference-high 44 times just one season after he was taken down behind the line of scrimmage on a pass 21 times.

Being brought down 65 times in his first two seasons as a collegiate quarterback has to be a bit disheartening, and the pressure must have been a big factor into his poor numbers last season. While he was second in the Big Ten in passing yards with 2,977, he was tied for last in interceptions, 15, while recording the lowest passing touchdown total of the top-seven yard-producing gunslingers in the conference with 12.

Hackenberg’s numbers will surely improve this season as he will look to get back on track and put up a better touchdown-to-interception ratio like he did during his freshman season. He has the potential to be the conference’s No. 1 or No. 2 QB, but right now, he is not.

Next: 2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State