"They were kind of leading before school ended," said Hanson. "At that point I told Coach [John] Shoop and Coach [Butch] Davis that my heart was leaning towards them a little bit.
"It just took me awhile to really finalize where I wanted to go. I didn't want to have and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. I wasn't necessarily scared to make a decision, but it's such a big decision, I just wanted to make sure I had it right."
During the car drive home from Missouri following a family vacation in July, Hanson made his final decision.
"My parents had been telling me the whole trip ‘Come on, you've got to make a decision, you've got to make a decision.' And finally I just said ‘You know, I think I'm going to commit to UNC,'" said Hanson. "There wasn't a big party or anything."
Hanson, a 6-foot-6 190-pound quarterback from Charlotte (N.C.) Latin, became the third 2008 prospect to pledge to UNC.
Many different factors lead to Hanson selecting UNC.
"I think I just felt very comfortable with the coaching staff from the very beginning," Hanson said. "The school from academically to socially to athletically, I felt like it was a great fit for me. To be able to play in-state for my in-state school, was also somewhat of a factor. I just felt like the football program is up-and-coming and I want to be a part of that."
Hanson's recruitment began to heat up during the spring as his highlight reel circulated among college staffs
"Everybody in the world stepped into the picture this spring," said Larry McNulty, Latin's head football coach. "It was unbelievable. Every day there were three and four and five coaches coming through here. It was a very tedious process."
Among the visitors was UNC area recruiter Tommy Thigpen and UNC quarterbacks coach John Shoop.
"Coach Shoop said from the beginning the thing that he liked about Braden was his accuracy and his ability to put the ball where he wants to put it," said McNulty.
"And the other thing that he liked, which he couldn't really see on film but I conveyed to him, was Braden is very unflappable in the pocket. He doesn't care what's going on around him. If he makes a bad throw, he's right back out there on the next throw. He doesn't hang his head, he doesn't pout, he doesn't get negative – he has a very short memory. That's tough for a high school quarterback to do."
After their evaluation visit, Thigpen spoke to Hanson over the phone.
"Coach Thigpen told me that night he thought I was going to be one of the top three quarterbacks in the country," said Hanson.
Hanson then decided to make an unofficial visit to UNC.
"I got a chance to meet Coach Davis for the first time – that was great," said Hanson. "There wasn't anything special going on like a spring game. Coach Thigpen just drove me around in a golf cart."
A few weeks later, UNC held a Junior Day event during the weekend of the men's basketball contest against Duke. Hanson attended and was introduced to Shoop.
From that point forward, Shoop handled the majority of Hanson's recruitment.
"I just needed to get to know Coach Shoop as best as I could," said Hanson. "I just think he's just a great guy. He's going to help me get a lot better."
Not even a month later, Hanson made yet another unofficial visit to Chapel Hill for a spring practice. During this stay, Hanson was extended a scholarship offer by Davis.
"Ever since they offered me, they were a school I always compared everybody else to," said Hanson.
"[The offer] did affect things from a standpoint of I obviously knew the interest was mutual. I didn't want to beg some school to come offer me. I liked having the fact that Carolina really thought very highly of me."
Shortly thereafter, Hanson collected offers from Colorado, Duke, Kansas State, Missouri, Rutgers, and Wisconsin.
Throughout the spring and even into the early parts of the summer, Hanson logged loads of travel miles making unofficial visits to Alabama, Auburn, Colorado, Duke, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas State, Missouri, Rutgers, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
However, Hanson was on the UNC campus most often.
"I definitely had as much comfort with North Carolina as anybody else," said Hanson. "The [amount of] visits, I think, that was just a product of [UNC] being close to home."
During the summer, Hanson camped at UNC despite already possessing a scholarship offer from the Tar Heels.
"I just wanted to get a chance to work with Coach Shoop on a one-on-one level," said Hanson. "I just wanted to get a feel for what he was like coaching quarterbacks."
The camp experience helped Hanson familiarize himself with Shoop.
"Working with him at the camp for a day and a half just really helped in my mind to just get a feel for what he is like," said Hanson. "I got a chance to learn about what kind of coach he is.
"He's very, very energetic, very up-tempo, and upbeat. Definitely, I think he knows what he's talking about."
Hanson then took a break from the recruiting process as he allowed his experiences to sink in.
A couple of days after returning from his family vacation, Hanson verbally committed to Shoop.
With his decision behind him, Hanson would like to quarterback UNC's 2008 recruiting class by assisting in the recruiting efforts.
"I've put my name in the hat and just said ‘Hey anything I can do; I'd love to be able to help,'" said Hanson. "I told them, I'll do anything."
Check back tomorrow for Part II ...