He jumped at the chance to play as both a freshman and sophomore in midseason and that experience was the biggest factor in earning the starting job this fall. But after suffering a ruptured spleen two weeks ago against Texas Tech, Hansen is out for the rest of the regular season.
He is confronted with the facts that he will go into his senior season next fall with no guarantee of being the starter -- the possibility of having to learn a whole new system and build relationships with a different coaching staff and knowing that his choice not to redshirt might have cost him more playing time in his career.
He has played partial seasons in three consecutive years, never seeing action in more than seven games in any one of them. He has played in 20 games overall and has started 16, which amounts to one full season and 25 percent of another.
"It`s disappointing," Hansen said. "That`s not the way you want your college career to end up, but it`s something you just got to deal with. ... It`s frustrating and I`ve kind of been twisting and turning with my emotions a little bit but you`ve just got to deal with it and you`ve got to stay positive, and everything happens for a reason."
Hansen said team doctors and athletic trainers diagnosed a possible spleen injury just after halftime of the Texas Tech game. He returned to the field to warm up hoping to go back in for the third quarter, but he was having trouble breathing and he felt pain in his left shoulder. That was an indication to doctors of a spleen issue.
Hansen laid in his hospital bed for several days concerned about his future not just in football but in the rest of life. If he would have had to have his spleen removed, it would have meant changing his lifestyle and having to be more cautious with many decisions he always has taken for granted.
"You`ve got to take a lot more precautions the way you live your life and you`re immune system is totally cleaned out and weak," Hansen said. "To have the spleen, to keep it in your body is really healthy and I`m really happy I can live my life with my spleen now."
Hansen says he feels good nearly two weeks after suffering the injury. He still feels a twinge of pain from time to time and he continues to take medication to help him recover. He is prohibited from any strenuous activity.
The day he was released from the hospital he went to see his teammates on the practice fields. Several of them forgot for a moment the serious nature of his injury when saying hello a little too firmly. He laughs it off now.
"I was like, 'Ow, I just got out the hospital. Be easy on me,'" he said.
He continues to attend meetings and study film just as if he was preparing to play in this week`s game. He knows the game plan and will be on the sideline the rest of the season helping signal plays into Cody Hawkins and rallying his teammates in any way he can.
"I`ll be pretty much like another coach, another set of eyes and ears out there," Hansen said.
Hansen said he was taking the most optimistic approach hoping he might recover soon enough to play in the regular season finale at Nebraska.
He learned Wednesday that won`t be possible, but he still has a chance to play in a bowl game in late December if his teammates can pull together three wins and the Buffs earn a bowl invitation, which is no sure thing even with six wins.
Hansen said he would probably have to practice for at least a week to be mentally and physically ready to play in a bowl game after so much time off, but he really wants the opportunity.
"That`s my goal right now is to get healthy for a bowl game," he said. "I would have to feel confident that if I did take a hit, I would be OK."