Utes starting strong safety Chase Hansen has decided to return for his final season of eligibility and said he’s excited to give it “one more go.”
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and Hansen, a former Parade All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year while playing at Lone Peak, each acknowledged at the end of the season that Hansen would consider entering the NFL draft.
“I got advice from plenty of people — you know, everyone’s got an opinion,” Hansen told The Tribune. “I tried to listen to people that want what’s best for me, not just my football career but my academic career. I tried to think beyond football. I felt pretty good about coming back earlier on. Later in the season, I felt like that was probably what was going to happen. I just wanted to go through all the steps and make sure that was my best option.”
Getting his degree and a desire to finish his career on a healthy note were some of the deciding factors for Hansen. He said he’s on pace to complete his degree requirements this summer to earn a bachelor’s in consumer studies and financial planning, with a minor in sociology.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound former high school quarterback has become one of Utah’s defensive leaders in the past two seasons. Hansen led the team in tackles (90) as a sophomore in 2016 and added four fumble recoveries and three interceptions in 13 starts to earn honorable mention All-Pac-12 Conference honors.
Hansen dealt with injuries throughout the 2017 season, including an injury that kept him out of preseason camp for several weeks. Hansen missed four games throughout the season due to various injuries.
In eight games this season, Hansen recorded the third-most tackles (51) on the team, and added one interception and one sack.
“I truly don’t feel like there was one game that I was fully healthy last year, and I’m sure that’s how a lot of guys felt,” Hansen said. “I don’t want it to sound like I’m complaining about my health problems. Everyone that steps out on that field is struggling with something. I just never felt like I was going out there fresh and feeling like the old me, I guess you could say. I just want to try to find a way to get back to that.”
Hansen will also next season play at least part-time as a linebacker, an option Whittingham mentioned an radio appearance on ESPN 700 AM′s “The Bill Riley Show” last week.
“I feel like I’ve been a linebacker for most of the time I’ve been here,” Hansen said. “I play in the box so much. I’m sure I’ll be in the box more this year because I feel like we have a really good secondary coming back. Honestly, as much as they want to move me around, I’m excited just to be a complete player where hopefully I can come up on the line even more, be in the box even more.”
Despite finishing the season sidelined by injury, Hansen said he jumped back into offseason workouts. He would like to be back for spring practice, though that hasn’t been determined.