Hanson finds inspiration from Bulldogs of the past

Whenever running back Brian Hanson of Proctor is having a bad day, he seeks out a bronze plaque in Minnesota Duluth's football locker room and finds inspiration.

Whenever running back Brian Hanson of Proctor is having a bad day, he seeks out a bronze plaque in Minnesota Duluth's football locker room and finds inspiration.

The plaque dedicates the Bulldogs' locker room to the memory of Terry Egerdahl, a Proctor native who went on to star at UMD before dying of heart failure in 1980 at age 27.

Egerdahl was married to Hanson's mother, Penny, who later married another UMD football player, Two Harbors graduate Boyd Hanson, and the couple had three children, Angie, Ben and Brian.

"I've got a lot of roots here (at UMD)," Brian Hanson said.

Hanson will lead the Bulldogs against Delta State in the Division II championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday in Florence, Ala., the same spot UMD won its first NCAA title in 2008.


Hanson has been a key reserve the three seasons, but the senior's role increased in 2010 when All-American running back Isaac Odim was lost to a season-ending knee injury in midseason and backup Brad Foss has battled shoulder issues.

"It's great to have the kind of family tradition that Brian brings," UMD coach Bob Nielson said. "He's not a guy who is necessarily going to be considered flashy, but he's a hardnosed player, and from what I've gathered, a lot like his dad. He's what I describe as just a football player, and that's one of the best compliments you can give a guy."

Hanson has 121 carries for

659 yards this season, with 196 in the last two games as the Bulldogs have all but abandoned the pass, while steamrolling the opposition on the ground. Hanson has nearly 1,200 career rushing yards, with eight of

11 career TDs this season.

Hanson had one carry for one yard -- through the first five games.

"I love running the ball, and with the injuries we've had, that has given me more of an opportunity this season," Hanson said. "This is the best I've felt through all my years of playing. I'm enjoying it."

At 6-foot, 205 pounds, Hanson has the edge over his dad, who was


5-9 and 188 pounds as a Bulldog, although their bulldozing running styles are similar.

"Brian is so strong between the tackles. He makes a cut and will get you four or five yards a carry," says Boyd Hanson, 51, a plant engineer at St. Luke's hospital, who will be in Florence on Saturday. "He waited his time behind some amazing runners, he worked to become a better blocker and took advantage of his chance in the lineup."

Sure hands and strong blocking were Boyd Hanson's forte from 1979-82 as he became No. 8 among UMD's career rushers with 2,575 yards, one spot ahead of Egerdahl. Boyd Hanson played on teams that went 34-5 over four years, including Jim Malosky's undefeated 1980 team. He helped open holes for backs like Amory Bodin and Tom Stoll.

"I've watched some film of my dad, and he had a little speed," Brian Hanson said. "He still loves to watch games from the end zone because he likes watching plays develop. He can't stand being up in the stands because he can't see the holes being made."

Hanson takes inspiration from his father and Egerdahl, a 1976 draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings who did it all for the Bulldogs. The younger Hanson played his high school football at Terry Egerdahl Field in Proctor, where his father was an assistant coach.

Egerdahl died on Dec. 15, 1980, suffering cardiac arrhythmia while warming up for a pick up basketball game. He was Proctor High School's football coach at the time. Brian Hanson recalls his mother saying, Terry simply went out to buy Christmas presents and never came back.

"It's tragic," Hanson said. "She told the story and held herself together pretty good, but you could tell it was hard. Everyone who was listening had tears welling up. It was the saddest thing I've ever heard in my whole life."

Egerdahl's locker room plaque reads, in part, that the example he set "encouraged his teammates and coaches to match his work ethic and commitment. While his premature death cut short a promising athletic career, his integrity and dedication will forever be the standard for all who pass through this locker room."

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
What To Read Next
Get Local