Ex-Eagles QB Christian Hackenberg seeks career as pitcher

Christian Hackenberg #8 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Christian Hackenberg #8 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Former Nittany Lion and Eagles QB Christian Hackenberg wants to become a professional baseball pitcher.

First it was 2015 preseason Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow turning to baseball. Now, 2018 preseason thrower Christian Hackenberg is looking to do the same.

Like the Eagles recently took quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round, 53rd overall, the Jets similarly rolled the dice and took Hackenberg in the same round, 51st overall. The Penn State Nittany Lion alumnus never appeared in a NFL regular season game, however, despite being part of the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals organizations from 2016 to 2018.

With his professional football career all but over, Hackenberg now has his sights set on becoming a professional baseball pitcher.

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“I feel like I got a lot left in the tank and if one door is closed and I have the opportunity to open another one, why not do it?” Hackenberg told NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The 25-year-old says he has much respect for the game of baseball and knows the difficulty of hitting, but that he has the arm talent to take on the challenge. He adds that he misses competing at a high level and wants to get to the point where he can master his command and control.

Hackenberg’s coach, Ryan Kulik, has confidence in the former quarterback.

“He’s been up to 92, but I’d say right now he is consistently 90,” says Kulik, a Rowan University alumnus who reached Triple-A with both the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies organizations.

Kulik is helping Hackenberg at his backyard pitching facility called The Complete Pitcher. He also invited his former Camden Riversharks teammate and now-Phillies prospect Jeff Singer to throw there during the time off.

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Hackenberg never played collegiate baseball; his last experience picking up a ball and glove was back in high school, where for the Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy he posted an ERA north of seven with a 33-40 strikeout to walk ratio across 25 2/3 innings.

“He just started throwing [again],” Kulik says. “It will take him some time, but I think that he can be up to 95-plus within no time.”

There is still a lot of work to do, but you never know. You just might see Hackenberg in Phillies red pinstripes in the future.