A record-setting legacy for Hersey standout Hansen
It was just a little trip to DeKalb to visit cousin Jeffrey in college.
Little did Jordan Hansen know that he was getting a glimpse into his future.
Cousin Jeffrey, a student at Northern Illinois about six years ago, took Hansen, who was 11 years old at the time, to a football game to watch the NIU Huskies and star quarterback Jordan Lynch, who was nominated for the Heisman Trophy in 2013.
Years later, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Hansen, a star quarterback at Hersey, would commit to play football at Northern Illinois. And one opposing coach this fall, Fremd's Lou Sponsel, even compared Hansen to Lynch, after Hansen torched his team for 5 touchdowns back in early September.
"It's kind of weird how everything is coming full circle," Hansen, now a senior, said with a laugh. "I never would have thought when I was a kid visiting my cousin at NIU that I would be playing football like this, and playing in college. It really never went through my mind."
Likewise, Hansen's mind-boggling numbers at quarterback this season were also a bit unexpected.
Hansen played some quarterback as a kid, and was quarterback of the freshman team at Hersey. But he began his varsity career for the Huskies as a defensive player, starting at safety as a sophomore.
He then played some running back last season as a junior, but was still mainly a defensive player.
So technically, Hansen was a rookie quarterback this season, but his statistics certainly tell another story. Hansen looked like a seasoned pro, breaking all kinds of scoring and passing and rushing records in leading Hersey to a 9-2 record and playoff appearance.
With an IHSA record of 59 touchdowns on the season, and multiple other school records to boot, Hansen was a clear choice for 2019 Daily Herald All-Area Football Team Captain for the Northwest suburbs.
"Watching Jordan play football is something special," Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. "His speed, patience, competitiveness and toughness shine every time he takes the field. But above all his skills, Jordan is a humble and supportive teammate who comes to work every day with a blue collar attitude."
Hansen, who was also named all-state, as well as all-conference and the Mid-Suburban League East Offensive Player of the Year, says his work ethic hit a different level last spring and summer as he learned of his coaches' desire to start him at quarterback this season.
"I trained a lot in the offseason. I put a lot of time in," Hansen said. "I worked on my speed and strength, on getting faster and stronger. I went to Tom Nelson Training (TNT) four days a week. I stayed after our practices at school to work with our wide receivers to get extra reps in.
"I knew (playing quarterback) was going to be something new for me this year. I really wanted to work on it. If you put that much work into something, it breeds confidence. Preparation breeds confidence."
Hansen seemed perfectly confident in Hersey's season opener. He put up 5 touchdowns in a win over Lincoln-Way West. Then came another 5 touchdowns against Fremd. Three weeks later, he had a school-record 8 touchdowns against Wheeling and then had another 8 touchdowns against Elk Grove in Week 8.
Overall, Hansen, using his signature speed, shifty cuts and strong field vision, set five school records, an IHSA record and now ranks in the top 20 in three offensive categories in the IHSA record books.
On the season, Hansen completed 110 of 192 passes for 1,977 yards and 24 touchdowns. And he ran for 1,914 yards and 35 touchdowns on 196 carries. That's a total of 59 touchdowns. In one season.
"It's pretty cool to see those numbers on paper. I never thought I'd be a part of a unit as good as (the Hersey offense) and it's exciting to leave a legacy like this, to be on the record board," Hansen said. "But in the moment, I never thought about it like that. You can get all those numbers, but if you don't get the 'W,' those numbers don't mean anything.
"I was always just trying to do whatever the team needed me to do so that we could win the game."
Hersey won 27 games in three years with Hansen on the varsity.
But Hansen's last game in a Hersey uniform still stings. Hersey was upset in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs by Lake Zurich.
The Huskies thought they had all the pieces for a run to the state championship game.
"Obviously, the season didn't end the way we wanted it to," Hansen said. "We weren't ready to be done. That's why I can't wait to play football again."
Hansen will get his chance next year at Northern Illinois in his full-circle moment.
He chose NIU over Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois and North Dakota State.
"The coaches felt right, the facilities are good, the football is good and NIU is close to home," Hansen said. "I think they want to make me a safety, but I told them I'll play wherever they need me: quarterback, returning punts, running down kicks, offense, defense.
"When you love football as much as I do, it's all fun. I get the chills just talking about it."
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