Colorado coach Jon Embree named senior quarterback Tyler Hansen his starter for the 2011 season today, and also announced the departure of five players -- two whose careers will end because of injuries and three others who are not being invited back to the program.
Embree said offensive lineman Max Tuioti-Mariner and wide receiver Will Jefferson have knee injuries that will prevent them from finishing their careers in Boulder.
Tight ends Harold Mobley and Henley Griffon, along with defensive end Forrest West, are the players not being invited back.
Embree did not elaborate on why the three players won't be back but he offered clues in a post-practice interview last week when he forewarned that he would be making cuts after spring ball -- that the players who would be trimmed from the roster would be those who were not taking care of their responsibilities on and off the field.
"We will work with them to see if we can place them elsewhere," Embree said in a news release from the school.
Embree was not available for interviews because he is traveling this afternoon to California to meet with alumni and boosters.
Mobley and Griffon are redshirt freshmen who did not play in their first season in Boulder last fall.
West is a junior-to-be who was a regular contributor to the defense in 2010.
For Hansen, being named the starter at this point in the year is a first.
He has played in each of the past three seasons and earned the starting job for the first time last August by beating out former Buff Cody Hawkins for the job.
This year he will have the entire summer to work with teammates and lead summer throwing sessions with his teammates knowing he will be their leader in the fall.
"Tyler did a great job all spring," Embree said in the news release. "He has command of everything you need to have at quarterback and has also developed into a team leader. This was a goal of his heading into the spring and I'm happy that he was able to attain that goal."
Hansen completed 39 of 53 passes for 531 yards and five touchdowns in the three main spring scrimmages. He did not throw an interception. He also ran four times for 37 yards.
During the first three years of his career he has made a name for himself by making plays with his feet, and the offense CU used in the first half of last season was geared toward allowing him some freedom to do more of that.
But his junior season ended when he was hit hard on an option play in the Texas Tech game and he suffered a ruptured spleen.
Hansen said he was completely healthy when spring practices started and predicted he would quickly adapt to the new pro style West Coast offense coaches installed.
He said it was similar to the offense he directed in high school and his experience to this point in college would also help.
He backed up that prediction with a solid performance in spring practices, aside from some minor bumps early on.
During the second scrimmage of spring, he completed 18 of 19 passes for 246 yards and three scores. It was at that point when it became clear he had earned the job.
"I thought that he grew a lot faster with the offense than I had anticipated," quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer said in the same news release. "He had a solid performance for the most part starting from day one through day 15 in spring practice, and he really gives us a chance at quarterback.
Coaches said they were also happy with the continued development of redshirt freshman Nick Hirschman, who led five of seven scoring drives in the spring game.
Hirschman completed 22 of 43 passes for 274 yards and three scores in the three main spring scrimmages. Junior transfer Brent Burnette will be the third string quarterback heading into fall camp.