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Waiting game over for UND QB Hanson
In October 2011, Braden Hanson sent out emails to Football Championship Subdivision programs that might need help at quarterback.
“We quickly sent one back saying we were interested,” University of North Dakota offensive coordinator Greg Breitbach said.
A couple of months later, Hanson picked up the phone and started calling coaches from a list of schools in need of a quarterback, a list his dad concocted through online searches.
Hanson had just two requirements for a new destination. Already with an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, he wanted an opportunity to start at quarterback and the chance to enroll immediately into a graduate program to obtain his Masters in Business Administration.
A North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year out of high school, Hanson had been a backup in his time at UNC, including sitting behind T.J. Yates, who has seen playing time in the NFL for the Houston Texans.
“It was sort of weird,” said Hanson, who will start under center Thursday in UND’s season opener against South Dakota School of Mines at the Alerus Center. “I started calling those schools and once I found out North Dakota was interested and wanted me, I stopped calling. I just packed my bags and left.”
In the UND coaching offices at Memorial Stadium, the incoming call was well-received.
“Our interest was high,” Breitbach said. “We kept him on the phone for a long time because we aren’t able to call him back without a release (per NCAA rules). He was a great follow-through guy with that. He would call me back at certain times and we would talk logistics.”
Hanson then sent UND coaches film of his playing time at North Carolina, as well as practice video.
With the deadline to enroll in spring classes nearing, Hanson headed to Grand Forks — sight unseen.
“I was pretty anxious and excited,” Hanson said.
UND wide receiver Blair Townsend was one of Hanson’s summer workout partners.
“He came in and wanted to get to know everybody,” Townsend said. “It was an easy transition. He fit in right away. He always wanted to throw in the offseason. He was that kind of guy to get it all together. He was a natural leader that way.”
Breitbach said Hanson integrated into the team with ease.
“He did a nice job finding who the older players were and connecting with them,” Breitbach said. “He went about his business earning respect and not demanding it. He’s humble in how he handles his business.”
Hanson joined the football team for spring practices in 2012 when he split time with incumbent Joey Bradley, a junior-to-be who struggled in his starting role the previous season at UND.
Hanson would overtake Bradley for the No. 1 job out of spring camp and by fall Bradley decided to leave the program to transfer elsewhere.
Hanson, a lanky 6-foot-5 lefthander, has impressed coaches and players with his accuracy, timing and leadership.
“Everyone’s behind him,” Townsend said. “He came in, learned the playbook really well and wanted to work. He wanted to win that spot and win our respect. He’s done that.”
Out of Charlotte Latin High School in 2007, Hanson played in the Under Armour All-American Game following a senior season in which he led Latin to its second straight North Carolina Independent School’s state crown. In his final two prep seasons, Hanson threw for 5,623 yards and 81 touchdowns.
With the Tar Heels, Hanson saw a few minutes in a reserve role as a redshirt freshmen. He played sparingly in six games as a junior.
In a 13-0 loss to North Carolina State in 2011, Hanson was 7-for-13 passing for 86 yards.
But he never started a game at Chapel Hill and as his fifth season on campus approached, it appeared he never would.
So Hanson came to Grand Forks in search of that prospect, an opportunity that will come to fruition at 7 p.m. Thursday night.
“It’s a different feeling,” Hanson said. “I’m going to be pumped. My first ball might go through the roof.”
By: Tom Miller, Forum Communications