HIGHLAND — When Chase Hansen committed to the University of Utah his junior season, there was a sentiment around the state that he'd never play quarterback at the U.
At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, many figured it was an inevitability that Hansen would be the next Ute QB recruit converted to a different position.
An amazing thing happened during Hansen's senior season though. He transformed himself from an athlete playing quarterback into a quarterback with unbelievable athleticism.
In leading Lone Peak to a 14-0 record and a 5A state championship, Hansen completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,066 yards and 38 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,404 yards and 16 TDs.
"He was sensational," said Lone Peak coach Tony McGeary.
Following a dream season in which he led Lone Peak to its first football state title in school history, Hansen has been named the Deseret News Mr. Football recipient for the 2011 season.
"It's in no way an individual award. I had to have a line that blocked for me and receivers who did a ton all year. As much as it's an individual award, it shows what we did as a team this year," said Hansen. "It's a cool award and a big award, and we as a team are proud of that."
Week by week Hansen dispelled the notion that he couldn't play quarterback at the next level, and now he'll get that opportunity next year with the Utes.
The past Sunday Hansen and his family met with Utah assistant coaches Norm Chow and Jay Hill, and everyone agreed that it was in the best interests of all parties for Hansen to compete for the starting job next fall instead of going on his LDS mission first.
He'll graduate from Lone Peak after the high school basketball season, and be able to enroll at the U. early enough to compete in spring ball.
Whether he wins the job or not, Hansen can't wait for the opportunity and believes he can be successful.
"I just don't think I'll stop working. I don't think, no matter how much I fail or not do so well, I won't stop until I'm the quarterback I want to be. If I show up and I'm not at that level yet, I'll work until I'm at that level and then I'll work harder until I'm at the next level," said Hansen, who was also named the 2011 Gatorade Utah Player of the Year on Thursday. "It's just about not ever getting complacent, and I don't think I will."
Coach McGeary has no doubt he'll be successful in college.
"He's got what I believe are the natural instincts and intangibles that you want in a quarterback. He can beat you with his arm, he can beat you with his throw, he's got escapability to buy time to get the ball off at a later time," said McGeary.
"Going to the next level the speed will be one of the main challenges for him, but I think he'll be able to adapt to that. He's a student of the game, he'll study and prepare himself for that next level. His work ethic is unbelievable. He's the first one to practice and the last one to leave, always willing to put in the extra work."
Hansen's ability to make plays inside and outside of the pocket this year was second to none. It didn't matter the competition either.
Arguably the three best defenses Lone Peak faced this season were Fremont, Bingham and Jordan, who ranked third, fifth and sixth, respectively in 5A scoring defense. Hansen lit all three of them up.
Against Bingham he finished with 486 yards of total offense and six TDs. In the semifinals against Jordan he racked up 462 total yards and five TDs. In the state championship game against Fremont, he totaled 475 yards and five TDs.
"His preparation was really key week in and week out, just getting ready for each opponent," said McGeary, who added that when Hansen was in the zone he was like a train going downhill with no brakes.
To prepare himself for the next level, Hansen said he really focused throughout the year on what it takes to be a great team leader, which he admits is one of his greatest accomplishments this year.
He also wanted to improve his pocket passing, which he did in a big way. A year ago he averaged 139.4 passing yards per game with 14 total touchdowns and seven interceptions. This year that efficiency went up to 219.0 yards per game with 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
"He really commanded the offense, he just rose to the occasions and shined when he needed to, when we needed a first down and we needed a touchdown," said McGeary.
Hansen will have an opportunity to be that guy for the Utes next year as well.
Mr. Football Winners
2010 — Alex Kuresa, Mtn. Crest (BYU)
2009 — Tuni Kanuch, Bingham (BYU)
2008 — Craig Bills, Timpview (BYU)
2007 — Boo Andersen, Alta (Utah)
2006 — Sausan Shakerin, Alta (Utah)
2005 — Riley Nelson, Logan (BYU)
2004 — Jason Zundel, Bear River (UVU baseball)
2003 — Ray Feinga, Hunter (BYU)
2002 — Kyle Brady, Tooele (Utah)
2001 — Daniel Coats, Northridge (BYU)
2000 — Steve Tate, Skyline (Utah)
1999 — Bo Nagahi, Skyline (Utah)
1998 — David Fiefia, Hunter (Utah State)
1997 — Morgan Scalley, Highland (Utah)