Nobody wants to be the next Jim Sorgi, the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback that backed up Peyton Manning for six seasons.
That’s just the position former CSU quarterback Caleb Hanie put himself in, however, when he signed with the Denver Broncos on March 24, four days after Manning.
After graduating from CSU in 2008 with a major in history, Hanie signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent. The Broncos will bring Hanie back to Colorado, his first extended stay in the state since he graduated.
“It feels great to be back here. It’s been nothing but fun and work since I’ve been here. I’m excited to be back here for sure,” Hanie said.
Though the Broncos opened training camp on Thursday, July 29 to a record crowd of 4,371 at Dove Valley in Englewood, Colorado, that didn’t provide a distraction to Hanie
“We’re used to playing in front of crowds. In Chicago, we had a lot of fans at our training camp,” he said. “You just zone those people out and do the work and focus on being better.”
Most of the masses visiting Dove Valley weren’t there to see Hanie. They made the trek to watch four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning in his first official practice in a Broncos uniform.
“[Working with Manning] has been fun, it’s been a learning experience. He can be pretty intense as far as focusing on details, but he keeps it loose at the same time, it’s a good balance,” Hanie said. “He jokes around, busts people’s chops a little bit. Normal team stuff.”
With Manning already anointed the team’s starting quarterback, Hanie finds himself in a battle with Adam Weber and rookie second-round draft pick Brock Osweiler for the backup job.
“The ultimate goal is to be a starter. You try not to compete against guys at the backup quarterback level, you try to compete against guys like Peyton, that way it elevates your game,” Hanie said. “You want to always strive to get to that level, strive to be perfect and let everything else fall the way it goes. You can’t control a lot of that stuff so it’s best not to worry about it.”
With that in mind, Hanie wants to master the Broncos’ offense in training camp and the preseason.
“If I can perfect the offense and be efficient, keep the turnovers down to hopefully none I’ll feel like I’ll have succeeded,” he said.
Even during his time away from Colorado, Hanie kept one eye trained on his alma mater and the developments at CSU.
“I try to keep up with it as best I can. Sonny [Lubick] left the same year I did, so there aren’t any coaching connections, but a couple of the guys I played with ended up being graduate assistants, so I get a good gauge of what’s going on in the program,” he said. “The new AD and head coach, I’m really excited about them. I think they have good visions for what they want CSU to be. I heard the rumors they’re putting a stadium on campus and I think that would be awesome for the school and for Fort Collins.”
Training camp continues for the Broncos through mid-August, and Hanie will likely take the field as a backup in the team’s first preseason game August 9 at Chicago.