AFA sophomore defensive lineman Alex Hansen draws high praise

August 8, 2013 Updated: August 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm
photo - Alex Hansen (87) shakes off a block Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, during practice at the Air Force Academy.   (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Alex Hansen (87) shakes off a block Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, during practice at the Air Force Academy. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

Troy Calhoun isn't the type of coach to fill a tape recorder with superlatives. When and if he talks about any of his Air Force players, the answers tend to be vague and brief.

But then you ask him about Alex Hansen.

"He's great," Calhoun said. "He's outstanding in all ways.

"I thought he played quality ball as a freshman and this year will only play better, too. He's added some strength and the experience, too, will really help him. He's a guy who's mature well beyond being just 14 months out of high school."

Calhoun wasn't finished praising the sophomore defensive lineman.

"Really, really beyond exceptionally bright; and yet more importantly he enjoys the contact and the aggressive part of it. He's a guy who has more pride in and finds it more important to be a high-character guy than a talent guy.

"He's a type-triple-A kid," the coach said.

Hansen's freshmen performance on the field certainly garnered high praise. He appeared in all 13 games, starting four, and tied for the lead among Air Force defensive linemen with 36 tackles and four sacks and was second with nine tackles for loss. His four tackles for loss against Hawaii were the most for a freshman at the academy and the most for any player in the six years the program has been under the direction of Calhoun.

That momentum didn't carry into spring practice, however, as a digestive tract issue kept him out of most practices.

"It was just a matter where food would move through him in a hurry," Calhoun said. "He felt like he had a bug or the flu. And he's a pretty tough kid."

Hansen appears to be recovered. He has regained his starting spot and figures to be a key to the defense. Because of the team's policy that keeps freshmen and sophomores from speaking to the media until the week of the first game, Hansen was not made available.

Some of Hansen's teammates, however, could talk. And there was one aspect about him that seemed to fascinate, and it had nothing to do with the six tackles against Navy or anything else that has happened since Hansen instantly became a fixture on the defensive front.

No, the crazy part was that the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Hansen was a two-time state track qualifier in Illinois in the 800 meters.

"I tried the 400 one time and I think I came in last place by about 20 seconds, so that didn't work out too well," said Nick Fitzgerald, who is listed as 6-4, 265. "I don't know how he made that work, but that's pretty impressive."

Seems everyone is impressed with this guy.

Air Force grad Armstrong set to join CFL team

Spencer Armstrong, a 2009 Air Force graduate, is finally set to join the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders nearly five years after he last played in a football game. Armstrong was drafted by Calgary in 2009, but he was twice denied an opportunity to be reassigned from active duty. The Calgary Herald, which reported that Armstrong will join the team, said his role as a contracting officer, particularly while serving in Kuwait, was deemed high demand and was the reason he was kept on active duty beyond the time he had hoped. Armstrong, a wide receiver, was born in Toronto but raised in Henderson, Nev.

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