Move over Tim Tebow, there is a new ex-quarterback trying to make it in the majors.
Former Jets quarterback and second-round draft Christian Hackenberg is attempting to return to professional sports as a pitcher, the 25-year-old told NBC Philadelphia.
“Simple as I can put it: I just want to compete, man,” he said. “I’ve kind of had my trials and tribulations with the NFL, and had success and had that roller-coaster ride. At the end of the day, I’m sitting here at 25. For me … I feel like I’ve got a lot left in the tank.”
Hackenberg’s path to baseball comes after a disappointing stint in the NFL where the Penn State product never took a regular season snap in his brief time in the league.
The former quarterback was playing in a slow-pitch softball league in South Jersey when he was put in touch with Rutgers-Camden baseball coach Ryan Kulik, according to Ryan Dunleavy of The New York Post.
Hackenberg has been working with Kulik over the last month, throwing off the mound one to two times a week.
“It’s not a joke, Kulik told The Post. “He’s all-in. He wants to do whatever it takes to reach his goal and I think he can.”
Hackenberg has not played baseball since high school when he pitched for Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, although his stats don’t paint a pretty picture.
The right-hander struck out 33 batters, walked 40 and posted a 7.36 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched, but according Kulik, Hackenberg is clocking in at 92 mph with potential to reach 95 with a regular routine in place.
“He knows it’s going to take some time,” Kulik said. “But, physically, he’s got the body and arm strength for it.”
Hackenberg spent two seasons with the Jets, spending most of his time buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, Josh McCown and Bryce Petty during that time.
He was traded to the Raiders in the spring of 2018 and was cut by the Raiders and Eagles before landing a practice squad role with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hackenberg most recently played for the Memphis Express in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.