WR picks PSU over Iowa, MSU

Fort Wayne, Ind.’s Mac Hippenhammer has made a reputation as a superb route-runner with great hands.

It’s the reason he was able to snare a school-record 67 catches last season, including six for 109 yards in Snider High School’s 64-61 Class 5A state championship victory over New Palestine.

On Saturday, Penn State snared Hippenhammer.

Becoming the 15th player in their recruiting class, Hippenhammer announced his verbal commitment to the Nittany Lions in a noon video tweet. The 6-foot, 165-pound Hippenhammer chose Penn State over Iowa, Wake Forest and Michigan State, with Indiana rounding out his final five.

“The Big Ten is somewhere I’ve always wanted to play. To play in Happy Valley, it’s exciting. Just to be able to play in the Big Ten, it’s a blessing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Hippenhammer said in an interview with WANE-TV. “I just felt like (Penn State) was the place or me, honestly. At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what is best for you and go with your heart.

“From academics to football, it was the best opportunity.”

Offered by the Lions on June 19 after the coaching staff watched him perform at a satellite camp at Bowling Green University, the consensus three-star prospect is coming off a season in which he was named to both the Indiana Football Coaches Association and Associated Press all-state teams, in addition to WANE’s Northeast Indiana Fab 15. The Indianapolis Star named him one of 10 preseason favorites for the state’s Mr. Football Award.

Hippenhammer is the second receiver recruit in this class for Penn State, joining Maryland’s Cameron Sullivan-Brown. Both Hippenhammer and Sullivan-Brown have similar size, and, while Hippenhammer has been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds, he, like Sullivan-Brown, gets his highest marks for his hands and footwork.

Hippenhammer’s soft hands also have made him a standout shortstop in high school, and, according to WANE, he’d like to try to play baseball in college, too.

Scout.com’s analysis of Hippenhammer praised his smooth, quick feet and ability to position himself for catches.

“Polished route-runner, knows how to create separation and has good body control and quickness in his breaks,” the recruiting website wrote. “Good ball skills, sure-handed and can get down field.”

Scout’s assessment was that Hippenhammer, who is expected to play primarily the slot at Penn State, needed to gain strength to reach his potential. The Indiana Football Scout website projected Hippenhammer in December as a player that would excel at a MAC-level program before several top Big Ten teams determined that he was good enough to help their programs this summer.

“Strong after the catch; has nice vision in space, can create on his own. Can make acrobatic catches midair and in a crowd, adjusts to ball,” the websitewrote. “Dynamic punt returner; can make guys miss and run through contact.”

Indeed, Hippenhammer scored nearly as many touchdowns rushing and returning the ball as a junior (five) as he did catching it (six). He ran back two punts for scores, as well as a kickoff.

While Hippenhammer accounted for 953 yards receiving in 2015 and his 97 career receptions are second-most in Panthers history, he could wind up playing a lot of quarterback this fall.

“We need to get the ball in his hands,” Panthers coach Kurt Tippmann said in an interview with the Hoosier State Preps website. “Mac is one of the best pure athletes to ever play at Snider. He has trained as a QB for four years – so is very capable at whatever position we put him. A guy with pure speed is very versatile, but what makes Mac even more so is his willingness to do whatever we need him to do and his football intelligence.”

Hippenhammer said he thinks the opportunity is there to see the field next year, depending on how well he performs. Another reason he picked Penn State was the connection he felt with the Nittany Lion coaches – Josh Gattis was his primary contact.

“They recruited me really hard compared to the other schools. You could just tell they had a genuine love for me, and they wanted me to be part of their team. I could really feel that,” Hippenhammer said.