EDMOND — There was always the risk that Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen would end up somewhere other than Oklahoma.
For Dusty Hansen, though, that didn't matter.
The former Sooners baseball standout felt it only fair to let his son make his own path, as tough as that could be watching him in a different jersey on Saturdays.
“I'm not the kind of guy that's going to make a decision for a kid,” Dusty said. “I don't think that's fair. Secondly, I didn't know as much about the football side of it as I would say baseball. Justice was going to be playing with one of four or five of some of the best football programs in the nation. I think it's better if he knows why he's making the decision for himself.”
Justice eventually chose the Sooners, ultimately following in his father's footsteps, though in a different sport.
Though he's already enrolled at OU and working out with the team, Justice will return to Edmond Santa Fe on National Signing Day next week. It's there a former Sooner will watch his son officially become a Sooner, continuing to build on the legacy he's been prepared for over the years.
“He just helped me through the whole process and helped me get to where I had Division I offers,” Justice said of his dad. “Now, it's in my own hands.”
For the Hansens, it's been a long, grinding process watching Justice develop into a future quarterback for the Sooners.
It started in the fifth grade.
“I know one of the first times when we sat down, we had a serious talk,” Justice said. “You always need a plan, so we sat down and talked about what my goals are and what I want to do. It was getting to Division I football and being the best I can there.
“So we sat down there and hashed out a plan of how we were going to do that. He's helped me do that through the whole way, he's told me how hard I have to work.”
There were strenuous workout regimens set. There were diets established. There were also a lot of sink-or-swim moments.
Dusty said he never meddled much with Justice's coaches, instead telling him to make his own way on the field. He also placed Justice in higher age groups at camps.
“I would want him to be in those situations because what I was trying to build, I think, is his own confidence,” Dusty said. “In camps and combines and stuff like that, I would put him in specific events that I knew would make him feel extremely uncomfortable. So when you're uncomfortable and nobody's there to save you, you have a decision to make: ‘Do I just get through this or do I rise up and compete?'”
It worked to near perfection as Justice developed into one of the state's top quarterbacks, passing for 6,645 yards and 69 touchdowns in his career. He also rushed for 1,741 yards and 34 touchdowns.
His senior season, though, was cut short due to injuries. He missed the season opener with a hamstring injury and then in October suffered a high ankle sprain that ended his season and still has him less than 100 percent entering the spring.
“To be honest, it was real frustrating because it's your senior year and you're wanting to go out big, but that's not always the plan,” Justice said. “There's not much you can do about it. All I could focus on was getting better, whether it was upper body, throwing while I'm hurt or whatever and also just working on healing this ankle.”
But once Justice started developing into a star, the Division I offers started pouring in.
Dusty, instead of pushing him toward the Sooners, sat down with Justice and discussed each school. They talked about the coach, the quarterback coach, the campus, etc.
Then finally, it came down to the Sooners, the university that has been so good to Dusty, who helped OU win the 1994 national baseball title.
“He's been with me through the recruiting process and everything, not even favoring anybody surprisingly,” Justice said. “Heck, if I have a kid and I'm OU, I'm not going to lie, I'll probably say some good things about OU. Just for him to be real with me and see everything through with me and help me make my decision, it meant a lot.”
With Justice already on campus, his chances of seeing playing action on Owen Field have already increased.
Even Dusty admits that day will be truly special.
“Him going to OU, I'm very proud of that,” Dusty said. “It's a fantastic university; it's something that my entire family bleeds crimson and cream. So it was very exciting for all of us.
“Being able to now watch him excel at OU and be on Owen Field one of these days, that will be a dream come true for not only him but us.”