Photo: Hayden Hansen; Credit: Zach Goodall
A lot of moves have already been made by Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier as he looks to lock in more players for his first recruiting class as the program's HC. Another domino fell with tight end Hayden Hansen out of Weatherford (Texas) committing to the program following his visit to the school over the weekend.
While Hansen wanted to spend time in the city and with the coaching staff, he also didn't know until the weekend that he would even be offered by the university and Napier. Sure, he had earned an offer prior while the UF head coach was at ULL, but he didn't know where he stood for Florida.
That answer would come quickly, though, offered by Napier at the 50-yard line during his visit to the stadium, something the young tight end said was "pretty cool," when taking questions with reporters shortly before he left to return home from his visit.
"Relief," Hayden said when asked what feelings he had when he was officially offered to join Florida on scholarship. "I came here a little anxious. I didn't know if I was wasting a visit or not. I knew in the back of my mind, he believed in me and it didn't surprise me."
But, it did surprise him at the same time, Hayden admitted. You never truly know what will happen during a recruiting journey, only to hope the relationships you built with certain players or coaches could lead to a positive outcome headed in your direction.
"I loved seeing Napier again, man," said Hansen. "I mean, especially a lot of the staff was from ULL (University of Louisianna-Lafayette) originally, that's where I was committed to and they never gave up on me. They believe in me and I'll probably end up here, it's the place I want to be."
Interviewed prior to officially announcing that he would be committed to the program moving forward, it was clear where his mind was already made up, a reunion with Napier was exactly what he wanted, and what he will take. Working in a "tight end heavy" offense was another reason for joining the program, he said.
"The traditional 'Y' and the 'H', 12 personnel a lot," Hansen described when asked about Napier's offense and its usage of tight ends. "A lot of run blocking, obviously, but a lot of past catching too, especially the red zone."
Hansen, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, has a knack for moving bodies in the run game, a strength of his he has said in the past. That will likely be no different during his time at Florida as he works to make his way into the offense. Of course, he will be asked to catch passes, too, as any modern-day TE would be expected to.
During his visit, Hansen, along with other recruits, was hosted by players currently on the team, showing them around the city and school itself. Hayden's host was Nick Elksnis, another TE with the program.
When asking about the differences in styles between the Dan Mullen-era and the Napier-era, the answer was simple, Hansen said, "culture." Right away Napier was setting the tone for how he wanted his players to be treated.
"The culture, the big thing was culture and how Napier already just got here and now he's fixed the parking arrangements and the living arrangements," he said. "So (Elksnis) said, it's on the uphill."
On the uphill will be what Florida fans want to hear moving forward, having a stable program with great direction is much desired after a failed 2021 campaign. Perhaps Hansen will be a part of that solution moving forward.
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