Yet another Hornet joins defending Super Bowl champs

Lars Hanson celebrates homecoming win
Lars Hanson (76) played four seasons with Sacramento State, earning honorable mention All-Big Sky honors at left tackle in 2015. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

With their latest signing, the Denver Broncos’ locker room is starting to feel more and more like Broad Fieldhouse East.

This week, former Sacramento State offensive tackle Lars Hanson inked a free agent deal with the defending Super Bowl champions. He joins linebacker Todd Davis, quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp, and offensive line coach Clancy Barone among the ranks of mile-high Hornets.

Hanson played four seasons with Sacramento State, starting his last 39 consecutive games at the most important position on the offensive line, left tackle, aka the “blind side.” In 2014, he presided over an offense that set single-season school records in total yards (5,780) and points (458). In 2015, the 6-foot-8, 305-pound captain was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection.

Signing with Denver, fresh off a 2016 Super Bowl championship victory over the Carolina Panthers, is a dream come true for Hanson: Despite hailing from Southern California, he grew up a lifelong Broncos fan.

Now, he’ll have the chance to toe the line for the team he loves alongside a whole host of familiar faces.

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Former Hornet receiver scoring big in Hollywood

Coogler_Ryan_Campus_Event_20130723_010
Ryan Coogler was one of the Hornets’ top wide receivers; now, he is one of the film industry’s brightest rising stars. (Sacramento State/Randy Allen)

In just a few years, writer and director Ryan Coogler has gone from making catches on the football field to making Oscar-nominated films in Hollywood.

Coogler (’07, Business Administration) was one of Sacramento State’s most dynamic wide receivers and a three-time winner of the Big Sky Conference’s All-Academic award, but this year he’s bringing in a whole other kind of hardware: His latest film, the highly touted Rocky sequel, Creed, earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor – the first Oscar nod for one of the young director’s movies.

It has been a whirlwind ride for Coogler, 29, who first got behind a camera while a business major at Sac State; still, despite his relative youth, he clearly has no problems directing A-list talent:

Creed’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor is a category came for a performance by megastar Sylvester Stallone, who won a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for his portrayal of a world-weary Rocky Balboa. The film also netted Coogler the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Association “Next Generation” Award.

The awards are the culmination of this past year’s buzz surrounding Coogler’s latest film, which was both a critical and commercial darling. His major motion picture debut Fruitvale Station grossed $16 million worldwide; Creed netted more than two and a half times that its first week in theaters.

Coogler still is just getting started as a Hollywood filmmaker, though you would be hard-pressed to tell given his body of work to date. With demand for his talents surging and even bigger directing projects on the horizon – including Marvel’s Black Panther for 2018 – it is hard to imagine that Creed will be his last Oscar-nominated film.

Click here to check out Ryan’s Made at Sac State story.

Former Hornet linebacker now Super Bowl champ

Todd Davis has gone by many names over his football career — Spirit, Hornet, Saint, Bronco — but the latest one really sticks: champion.

Hornet linebacker Todd Davis
Todd Davis, pictured during his senior year at Sacramento State, totaled the second-most tackles in Hornet history before playing on the game’s biggest stage in Super Bowl 50. (Sacramento State Athletics/Bob Solorio)

After racking up the second-most tackles in Hornet history, Davis, 23, found himself atop the football world on the game’s biggest stage Feb. 7 with the Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos.

“I just feel truly blessed to be here,” Davis, freshly decked out in a “Super Bowl Champions” hat and T-shirt, said in a post-game interview. “Super Bowl 50, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

“We did it, Sac State. We’re here,” he said, raising an outstretched pinkie finger. “Stingers up.”

As a member of Denver’s vaunted linebacking corps, Davis helped the Broncos limit opponents to the fewest yards in the league this year en route to a Super Bowl berth.

On Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Davis took the field for 25 snaps and was part of a defensive performance for the history books: Denver held the explosive Carolina Panthers’ offense to 10 points and posted a record seven sacks with four forced turnovers.

It has been a wild two years for Davis since he last took the field for the Hornets in 2013. Despite a prolific college career — Davis totaled 351 tackles, 9.5 sacks, six interceptions and was the Hornets’ two-time defensive MVP — he went undrafted in 2014.

He signed with the New Orleans Saints, was placed on waivers, and then claimed by Denver later that year. In 2015, he played in every game for the Broncos, registering 21 tackles as part of the NFL’s stingiest defense.

In two years, Davis has come a long way since his days at Hornet Stadium, and he has reached a level of competition that veterans twice his age often never experience.

Now, he has the ring to prove it.