Three years ago, Christian Hackenberg showed up at Penn State as one of the top quarterback recruits in the country, with a lot of expectations already placed on some very young shoulders. His freshman season, under coach Bill O'Brien, Hackenberg showed why he was so highly regarded.

While he was far from perfect (he threw 10 interceptions, as freshman quarterbacks often do), his 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns certainly gave us all a glimpse of the player he could grow to be. The problem was, he never became that player.

Following the 2013 season, Bill O'Brien left Penn State for the Houston Texans and James Franklin was brought in from Vanderbilt. In 2014, Hackenberg struggled big time, as he threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (12). Hackenberg bounced back a bit in 2014, throwing 16 touchdowns to only six interceptions, but his 53.5 completion percentage was the worst of his college career.

What led to the drop-off?

A lot of people took the anecdotal evidence of O'Brien leaving and blamed the coaching change. Whether it was correct or even fair to do so, I'm not sure, but it seems those who blamed Franklin for Hackenberg's struggles have Hackenberg in their corner.

From Robert Klemko at MMQB:

Per two personnel sources on two separate teams who have shown interest in drafting Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, the quarterback has said all the wrong things in interviews when asked to explain his declining sophomore and junior numbers (a combined 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions). Hackenberg has shifted blame to coach James Franklin, who took over in 2014 when coach Bill O’Brien departed for the Texans. Said one evaluator: “Despite the fact that it’s probably true, you don’t want to hear a kid say that.”

Yeah, that's never good.

I won't pretend I didn't have questions about Hackenberg's fit in Penn State's offense under Franklin, nor that I believe O'Brien is better with quarterbacks than Franklin is. I believe O'Brien's track record with quarterbacks proves that to be the case.

That being said, I don't think I'm ready to pin the blame solely at the feet of James Franklin and his coaching staff.

I watched Penn State the last two years, and what I saw was an offensive line that really struggled to protect Hackenberg, particularly in 2014. It doesn't much matter what plays a coach is calling if the offensive line can't block for them, and in 2014 that offensive line could not block. I think Hackenberg picked up a lot of bad habits that season since he was under constant duress, and even as the situation improved (slightly!) in 2015, I still saw a quarterback that displayed those bad habits.

Now, a team will certainly believe they can iron out those kinks with the proper coaching, and they will want to take a chance on a quarterback with the raw talent that Hackenberg has. Blaming Franklin, however, is still a bad look.

Football teams on every level look for their quarterback to be a leader, because it's basically part of what the position is. Hackenberg throwing his coaching staff under the bus isn't exactly the kind of character trait an NFL team is looking for.

Christian Hackenberg is reportedly saying all the wrong things to NFL teams. (USATSI)