Before this weekend, Caleb Hanie wasn’t much more than an
afterthought in the minds of most football fans. He was so much of
an afterthought that the San Diego State player roster scorecard
had Hanie incorrectly listed as No. 18 on the Rams’ roster.
That all changed with one play and one broken bone.
Hanie, a true freshman who wears No. 16, became the starting
quarterback for the CSU football team after junior starter Justin
Holland broke his leg against SDSU this past weekend.
This afterthought of a quarterback went 12-for-19 for 121 yards
and one touchdown this weekend, helping lead the Rams to a 21-17
win at SDSU.
“You know, that’s just typical of this season,” said senior
H-back Joel Dreessen. “The one guy you say can’t go down goes down,
and the freshman QB comes up big for us.”
Head coach Sonny Lubick said going into the SDSU game, he didn’t
think much about Hanie as the quarterback.
“You always tell those guys that they are one play away from
being a starter,” Lubick said. “But six games into the season, they
Following the win, Hanie returned to his residence hall room on
campus and found notes of congratulations left on his door, but
that was just the tip of the iceberg.
“I had 17 messages on my phone from people back in Texas,” Hanie
said. “Mom was so excited seeing me on TV she even said a curse
word. She never does something like that.”
Hanie is well on his way to becoming a celebrity on the CSU
campus. The 18-year-old business administration major from Forney,
Texas, is expected to be the starting quarterback for the remainder
of the year. He is now the first true freshman to start for the
Rams since Mark Miller started in 1991.
“A lot of people haven’t seen me without my helmet,” Hanie said.
“My name is on the front page of the paper, but I walk by them and
nobody knows what I look like.”
Hanie said the media coverage and the level of interest is the
biggest difference between high school football in Texas and
Division-I collegiate football.
“But I try not to bring too much attention to myself,” Hanie
said. “I don’t wear my football clothes to classes.”
At Forney High, Hanie competed in three varsity sports,
including leading the football team. He’s also used to dealing with
the pressure of a big crowd, having played in front of a crowd of
15,000 people for a high school rivalry game. Hanie said Forney was
a small enough school that everyone knew who he was.
“They knew I was the quarterback and they cheered and went to
the games,” Hanie said. “Here it’s different ’cause the students
talk about it and you see it on the front page of the paper.”
While in high school, Hanie was recruited by a small handful of
schools, including Baylor. The Rams coaches were so impressed with
Hanie when they were recruiting him last year that they offered him
a scholarship on the spot. Two weeks later, he accepted and became
“I came up here and just loved the setting, with the mountains
and the stadium up there,” Hanie said. “And this just seemed like a
really good college town.”
But, unlike many incoming freshman, Hanie did not wait until
classes started to get into college football. Hanie began talking
to offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt on a weekly basis.
Hammerschmidt sent the young quarterback game films to begin
studying while he was still a senior in high school. A month before
fall practice opened, Hanie came to Fort Collins with his parents,
moved in and began studying with Hammerschmidt and Holland and
working out with his teammates.
“He’s a smart kid, and he works really hard,” Hammerschmidt
said. “He’s a student of the game, and he just loves the game of
Hanie, a dual-threat quarterback who can run the football,
reminds Hammerschmidt of the first years of another CSU football
“Sitting in the film room, it was just like with Bradlee,”
Hammerschmidt said, referring to former CSU quarterback and
offensive record holder Bradlee Van Pelt. “We’re going to go back
to some of those old plays this week.”
Hammerschmidt said the Rams might use an option, as well as the
shotgun formation for Hanie. Holland, who is a pure drop-back style
passer, stayed in the pocket.
“We want to get Caleb out and around. He can move so we’ll use
that,” Hammerschmidt said. “It’ll be a learning experience for him,
knowing when to run and when to throw.”
Hanie said he wasn’t nervous replacing Holland on short
“One minute I was looking at plays on the clipboard, and the
next I was warming up,” Hanie said. “I didn’t really have time to
However, Hanie said that may change this week. Hanie’s first
career start will come against border rival Wyoming, who in a
surprise upset, beat CSU last year 35-28 in Laramie, Wyo.
“I’m going to try to make this a normal week, as far as practice
is concerned,” Hanie said. “But, you’re spending more time watching
film and getting reps – it’s different.”
Hanie said although this is his first Border War game, he loves
“The guys around here have been talking about it. They’re
pissed,” Hanie said. “We’re all talking about getting the boot
That boot, the Bronze Boot traveling trophy, has helped Hanie
understand the heated rivalry between the two universities.
Hanie now assumes the responsibility of a football team in need
of wins. But it’s a responsibility Hanie said he has been waiting
“I came up here to play football, and I’m getting my chance
now,” Hanie said. “I’ve been preparing for this situation and I’m