Penn State head coach James Franklin, left, and athletic trainer Tim Bream check on an injured quarterback Christian Hackenberg prior to his leaving the game in the first half of the TaxSlayer Bowl NCAA college football game against Georgia in Jacksonvil
Mark Wallheiser
January 02, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is leaving school early for the NFL.

Hackenberg declared his intentions following a 24-17 loss to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Saturday.

''This place means a lot to me,'' Hackenberg said. ''It's been an awesome ride, tough way to end it today. It means the world to me. My family and I talked about it and we felt this was the best decision for me. I felt my role here and my job here has been accomplished.''

Hackenberg left the game in the second quarter with a right shoulder injury. Linebacker Roquan Smith landed on his shoulder after a scramble. Hackenberg stayed in the game and threw four more passes, but grabbed the shoulder between plays.

He headed to the locker room after an incompletion and returned for the second half in street clothes. He said he wanted to play, but team officials told him no.

''It is what it is,'' said Hackenberg, who hadn't missed a snap in three years before Saturday. ''I'm disappointed I wasn't able to finish the game.''

Hackenberg said he made his decision to turn pro before the team left State College for Jacksonville.

Hackenberg, a junior, is the school's all-time leader in yards passing (8,457) and touchdowns (48) as well as completions, attempts and total offense. He completed 8 of 14 passes for 139 yards against Georgia.

Redshirt freshman Trace McSorley replaced Hackenberg and completed 14 of 27 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

''Things are in good hands moving forward, and I'm proud about that,'' Hackenberg said. ''I did get emotional about it, had a little break down in the locker room but all is good. We're moving forward.''

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AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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