Oct 212004
 
Authors: Jon Pilsner

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

stop believing.”

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

a Ram.

“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

football.”

Hanie, a dual-threat quarterback who can run the football,

reminds Hammerschmidt of the first years of another CSU football

legend.

“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

notice.

“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

be nervous.”

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

rivalry games.

“The guys around here have been talking about it. They’re

pissed,” Hanie said. “We’re all talking about getting the boot

back.”

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

for.

“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

ready.”

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