Athletics

Johnson, Hackenberg and Nassib selected on second day of NFL Draft

Credit: Penn State AthleticsAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A trio of Penn State Nittany Lions were selected in the second night of the 2016 NFL Draft Friday night. The Tennessee Titans selected defensive tackle Austin Johnson with the 43rd overall pick, joining former teammate DaQuan Jones, who was a fourth round pick for the Titans in 2014. The New York Jets picked quarterback Christian Hackenberg with the 51st overall selection, while Carl Nassib was the third round selection of the Cleveland Brown with the 65th overall pick.

The three Penn State selections in the first 65 picks of the NFL Draft are the three highest selections for the Nittany Lions since the 2003 Draft when Jimmy Kennedy (12), Michael Haynes (14), Bryant Johnson (17) and Larry Johnson (27) were all selected in the first round.

Johnson, Hackenberg and Nassib bring the total of 36 Penn State football student-athlete to be drafted since 2007. A total of 341 Nittany Lions have been selected all-time in the NFL Draft, including 36 in the first round.

With Johnson and Nassib's selections, 13 Penn State defensive linemen have been NFL Draft choices since 2003, including five in the first round. In four of the past five years, a Nittany Lion defensive lineman has been selected in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft.

Hackenberg is the highest Big Ten quarterback to be selected since Michigan State's Drew Stanton was the 43rd overall pick in the 2007 draft. Hackenberg is the 11th Nittany Lion quarterback to hear his name called on draft day and the highest QB selection for the Lions since Kerry Collins was the fifth overall pick in 1995.

Austin Johnson

A native of Galloway, New Jersey, Johnson is the first Penn State defensive tackle to be drafted since Jones was a fourth round pick of the 2014 draft. Johnson is the 14th Penn State player drafted by the Tennessee Titans.

"We couldn't be happier for Austin," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "After graduating from Penn State in just three and a half years, he is ready to move to the next level. With his size, strength and great footwork, Austin has the ability to fit a 3-4 or a 4-3 defensive scheme, which not a lot of guys can do. I can see him being a fantastic contributor for the Titans. It's also great to see him reunited with his good friend and former teammate DaQuan Jones."

"AJ is a true student of the game with a really high level of intelligence football-wise," Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer said. "He is a freak athlete. The combination of being 6-4, 315 pounds, moves like a cat with tremendous power at the point of attack and an unbelievable ability to make moves in short quarters makes me believe that his next step is going to be tremendous. He is going to be a great pro and I look forward to the future for AJ."

Johnson turned in a stellar junior season in which he was named second team All-Big Ten by the media and third team All-Big Ten by the coaches. He also earned first team All-Big Ten from the Associated Press and Athlon Sports. He started all 13 games in 2015 and ranked second on the team with 15.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Johnson's 78 total tackles were third on the team and ranked second among defensive linemen in FBS. The 78 stops were also the most for a Penn State defensive lineman since Jimmy Kennedy had 87 tackles in 2002. He had four games with nine or more tackles in 2015. Among his season highlights was a 71-yard fumble return for a touchdown, the first of his career (high school or college), versus San Diego State. The fumble return was Penn State's first fumble recovery for a touchdown since Mike Hull's 74-yard return vs. Navy in 2012.

As a sophomore, Johnson claimed All-Big Ten honorable mention accolades from the media after registering 49 tackles with 6.0 tackles for loss in 13 games. He was tied for seventh in the Big Ten and 43rd in FBS with two fumble recoveries. As a redshirt freshman, Johnson appeared in all 12 games with 27 tackles and 3.0 TFL.

Johnson graduated in December with a degree in journalism.

Christian Hackenberg

A native of Palmyra, Virginia, Hackenberg is the first Penn State player selected to play quarterback in the NFL Draft since Wally Richardson was a seventh round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 1997. Michael Robinson was a fourth round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 2006 NFL Draft as a running back.

"So thrilled for Christian to hear his named called at the NFL Draft," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "He bled blue and white during his three years at Penn State and we are thankful for his contributions to the program and community. He has all the tools to be successful at the next level and I know he has a bright future ahead of him with the Jets."

"I am so happy for Christian to see his NFL dream realized," Penn State tight ends coach Ricky Rahne said. "Christian has all of the tools -- including a strong arm and great football IQ -- to make him a successful quarterback at the next level. I am really looking forward to seeing what Christian does on Sundays."

Hackenberg left Penn State with this name etched at the top of the career passing record books. He ranks first in Penn State history in career passing yards (8,457), touchdowns (48), 300-yard passing games (9), 200-yard passing games (21), attempts (1,235), completions (693) and total offense (8,215). Hackenberg is the only quarterback in program history with 8,000 yards passing and three 2,000-yard passing seasons.

Additionally, Hackenberg owns the Penn State record for passing yards in a game (454; 2014), passing yards in consecutive games (773; 2014), pass attempts in a game (55; 2013), season completions (270; 2014 -- tied with Matt McGloin) and pass attempts in a season (484; 2014). As a freshman, Hackenberg broke one Penn State overall passing record and 12 school freshman passing records, including the rookie marks for game and season passing completions, attempts, yards and touchdown passes. He was named Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year for his efforts.

In 2014, Hackenberg claimed the New Era Pinstripe Bowl Most Valuable Player honor after completed 34-of-50 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns. He set Penn State bowl game records for passing yards, completions and attempts, and tied the record for passing touchdowns and touchdowns accounted for in a bowl game with four. Hackenberg was named to the BTN.com and ESPN.com All-Bowl Teams.

Carl Nassib

"Couldn't be more excited for Carl," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "His amazing story of going from walk-on to Lombardi Award winner to Penn State graduate to NFL Draft pick is unprecedented. His productivity and tremendous measurables will serve him well at the next level. The sky's the limit for Carl and there will not be anyone that will outwork him."

"Carl is a tremendous story and now for him to be selected in the NFL Draft is something special and a testament to how hard he has worked and his dedication to himself and the program," Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer said. "I am really excited for him. I know this is something that he wants and is very driven to achieve. I expect him to do great things at the next level and there is nothing that can hold him back. He has a great skill set and has a tremendous upside. The best is yet to come for him."

In a breakout season, Nassib became the 13th unanimous consensus All-American in program history and the 41st overall after a superb senior campaign. He was also the winner of the the 46th Rotary Lombardi Award for the nation's top lineman (offense or defense) or linebacker, the 14th Ted Hendricks Award for the nation's top defensive end and the Lott IMPACT Trophy for the top defensive player that represent the qualities embodied by Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott -- Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

Nassib was named CBS Sports National Defensive Player of the Year. Additionally, he collected first team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), AutoNation Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Walter Camp, Associated Press, Sporting News, ESPN.com, SI.com, CBS Sports and Athlon Sports. Nassib was also a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy (top player that started his career as a walk-on), the Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player) and Bednarik Award (nation's top defensive player).

Despite playing only four snaps in the last two regular-season games due to injury, Nassib led FBS in sacks (15.5) and forced fumbles (6) and was 11th in FBS and second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss (19.5). He is the first Nittany Lion to lead the country in a statistical category since Larry Johnson's 2002 rushing title. With one sack at Northwestern, Nassib broke the Penn State single-season sacks record by upping his total to 15.5. He surpasses the mark of 15 sacks set by Larry Kubin (1979) and Michael Haynes (2002).

Nassib was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. He graduated in December with a degree in biology.

There were 27 former Nittany Lions with NFL teams during the 2015 season, again placing Penn State in the top 20 nationally among schools in producing current NFL players.

For the 45th time in the Super Bowl's 50-game history, at least one Penn State alumnus was a member of one of the participating teams (19 times in last 21 years). Thirty-eight former Nittany Lions have earned a total of 55 Super Bowl rings, most recently Jordan Norwood with Denver last year. A total of 106 Nittany Lions have been on Super Bowl rosters.

Last Updated May 02, 2016