July 25, 2013

Trail of Talent: Hansen A Rare Breed

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With more and more Sooner fans wanting to know more about the players that will soon take to Owen Field there is always an element of bewilderment for some when a young high school prospect pledges his future to the Sooners with a verbal commitment.

'Who is this kid, is he a big deal?'

For long-time SoonerScoop.com readers the terms 'star ranking', 'Rivals100' or 'early offers' are accepted parts of the vernacular. For those just acquainting themselves with the recruiting chaos of Rivals.com and, in particular, SoonerScoop.com we offer you 'Trail of Talent' a brief guide to give you an idea just what Oklahoma's commitments means to the Sooner coaches and program.

Sure Oklahoma commitment Justice Hansen has had a video game-like career so far during his first two years of leading the Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe Wolves but the pressure he faces as Santa Fe's leader is nothing compared to that he has faced off the field since boyhood.

After watching one recruit after another fall under the pressure of huge expectations, it puts an even bigger perspective on just what Hansen has accomplished.

While many prospects begin to make a name for themselves once they get under the Friday night lights, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Hansen was well known prior to his first day in the hallways of Santa Fe, much less his time on the field.

The son of a former Sooner standout baseball player, expectations were high with many thinking he could make an impact for a 1-9 Wolves squad, however then head coach Bruce Gowen elected to go with then junior Ty Hensley.

Then arrived Lance Manning who had dealt with a talented young quarterback who also shared the title of a famous son when he mentored former Norman North, and current Ohio star, Tyler Tettleton. Almost immediately upon arrival it became clear that Manning and Hansen's future would be connected and it took little time before Hansen was leading the Wolves offense with Hensley electing to focus on a baseball career that would see him become a first round draft pick of the New York Yankees a little over a year later.

Almost as immediately it became clear that things were going to be very different in Hansen's sophomore year as the Wolves ran off an impressive 10-2 season that came to it's completion at the hands of current Sooner redshirt freshman running back Alex Ross and the might Jenks Trojans in the state quarterfinals.

SoonerScoop.com was on hand that night and though Santa Fe came up short, 48-21 the score looks considerably more favorable to the Trojans than it was. And Hansen's 359-yards passing and a pair of touchdowns had much to do with the Wolvers remaining competitive until late in the game..

From that moment on Hansen went from 'potential' to 'prospect' almost overnight as one school after another began making the rounds. After competing in basketball his junior year schools like Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State, and numerous others made the rare trip to Oklahoma to check on one of country's most highly-regarded young quarterbacks.

Just after signing day of 2012 Hansen went to a camp at the University of Missouri and picked up his first offer and from there the race was on, schools like Arkansas, Auburn, Kansas State, Texas A&M and many others would become involved in the following months.

The one school that seemed more passive than many others, was the same school that most everyone thought he'd end up at, Oklahoma. In fact several programs passed on the Oklahoma legacy due to that very reason.

However, just before spring evaluations heading into his junior season Hansen began to see a shift from Oklahoma and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.

"I talked to coach Manning and he just said that Josh had called and told me to give him a call. When I did he just invited me down (for the Red-white game)," Hansen said on April 16, 2012. "Actually, he was a lot different, we actually talked a lot, we had some one-on-one time where we talked about stuff."

From there offers and attention continued to roll in but Hansen, as ever, remained quiet and headed to Norman to take part in Oklahoma's annual June summer camp where he competed with fellow Sooner fan, and Oklahoma quarterback target Coleman Key where Heupel got to look at the rare duo of top-shelf in-state quarterbacks for the class of 2014.

As a junior Hansen put up yet another stellar year with a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio to go along with a staggering 50 touchdowns combined - 36 passing and 14 rushing. Hansen again led the Wolves to the state quarterfinals this time the Wolves ran into Tulsa Union, the four-time defending state champions. And again a Tulsa powerhouse put Hansen and the Wolves off, this time in a much less favorable manner for Hansen and Santa Fe.

Hansen then began to sink his teeth into truly sorting out his best options and though the Sooners remained a constant one school that quickly emerged as a more true contender than anyone expected possible - Texas A&M.

The four-star quarterback took his trip to College Station and came away marveling at the time spent with head coach, and former Sooner assistant, Kevin Sumlin.

The question immediately became would Hansen show up in Norman for Oklahoma's spring game on April 13, or would he end up in College Station - either way a commitment seemed imminent.

Hansen then pulled the trigger with his commitment by showing up in Norman, a secret that he left for only one person to know.

"A year ago, there are other teams that I kept my eye on so that wouldn't have surprised me but A&M, a lot of people didn't know what to expect and how they finished and how they recruited me, I liked A&M a lot," Hansen admitted back in April.

"When it came time to do decide, I was at the point where I was pretty comfortable with Oklahoma and felt like that wasn't ever going to change, so I just decided I'm going to commit to Oklahoma above Texas A&M."

"I think on Thursday or something I told coach Heupel that I would probably be there, and I think he was the only one that knew, but on Saturday I think coach Heupel mentioned to the coaches. Me, my mom, and my dad, and my brother went into coach Stoops' office with coach Heupel and that's when I committed."

On the very same weekend Hansen managed to convince fellow lifelong Sooner fan, and four-star receiver, Dallis Todd to join him in Norman. Since then Hansen has remained on the recruiting trail working on the likes of Steven Parker and Jeffery Mead among others - with Mead joining Todd and Hansen in the committed ranks.

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