The July before his junior year, Hance visited Northwestern for an informal barbecue and "fell in love right then." The three-star offensive tackle from Jacksonville (Ill.) considered it the dream school.
On May 15, he received his offer and told PurpleWildcats.com that he would wait out the process. But when the NU coaching staff told him they would evaluate other offensive linemen for only one spot, he made the quick decision.
"I wasn't going to miss that opportunity," he said.
Even before the 10-win season, Hance decided he wanted to play for Pat Fitzgerald—his reputation speaking for itself.
"It was exciting to meet a man who's so respected by everyone across the country—as a coach and as a person," Hance said. "It's obvious how much respect he has from everyone in the game at football."
Hance, like many recruits, also strongly values coaching stability. He said it played a critical role in his interest, with Fitzgerald clearly "loyal" to NU.
And even after the disappointing 5-7 season, Fitz visited his home and kept a high energy. He was "fun," said Hance, and joked around with his family.
But most of all, Hance is an NU guy. He values academics, wants the chance to play for a rising program and buys into the agenda. Now eight months after his verbal commitment, he made everything official on Wednesday.
"It's really exciting," he said. "It's going to be exciting to do workouts… housing… classes… just the little things."
Hance is one of three offensive linemen to join the 2014 recruiting class, with a special emphasis on shoring up the team's primary weakness from last season.
For Hance, the dream finally seems real. And from here, he'll look to make it that much sweeter.