Aug 28, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback is pursued by Illinois fighting Illini linebacker Jake Hansen (35) during the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois LB Jake Hansen (knee) to miss rest of season

Senior linebacker Jake Hansen’s career at Illinois is over following knee surgery.

The NCAA’s active career leader with 12 forced fumbles made the announcement Wednesday on Twitter.

“It pains me to say that I will not play another game as an Illinois football player,” Hansen wrote, in part.

“… I will look back at my time here with no regrets and will continue to cherish every moment I enjoyed here. With that said I look forward to pursuing my life long dream of playing in the NFL!”

Hansen was injured in the second quarter of the Fighting Illini’s 24-0 loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 9. He finishes the season with 32 tackles, two forced fumbles and one sack in five games.

A three-time team captain, he concluded his Illinois career with 276 tackles, eight sacks, seven fumble recoveries and three interceptions. His 12 forced fumbles are one shy of the school record held by Simeon Rice (1992-95).

–Field Level Media

Sep 7, 2019; East Hartford, CT, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Jake Hansen (35) sacks Connecticut Huskies quarterback Jack Zergiotis (11) in the second quarter at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

LB Jake Hansen returning to Illinois for 2021 season

Feb 29, 2020; College Park, Maryland, USA;  American sports broadcaster Rece Davis stand curtsied before the between the Maryland Terrapins and the Michigan State Spartans is at XFINITY Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker Jake Hansen said Monday he is returning to Illinois for a sixth season after initially declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Hansen, who led the nation with 14 takeaways over the past two seasons, made the announcement in a video message posted on the Illini football program’s Twitter feed.

“The 2020 football season wasn’t exactly how I imagine my time at Illinois to end,” Hansen said. “After extensive talks with Coach (Bret) Bielema and the University of Illinois staff, I have decided that I have unfinished business in the Orange & Blue. I am excited to get back up to Champaign and get to work with my teammates and my new coaches. Go Illini!”

Hansen will be one of 21 “super seniors” on the 2021 Illinois roster, players who will be using the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am excited for Jake to come back to the Fighting Illini family,” said Bielema, who was hired in December. “During my conversations with Jake it was easy to see how passionate he is about the game of football, his teammates and the University of Illinois. We’ve got an outstanding group of seniors that have chosen to come back to Illinois.”

A Butkus Award semifinalist in 2019 and a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2020, Hansen has registered 243 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, seven sacks, 10 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and three interceptions in 41 games with the Illini.

Hansen earned his undergraduate degree in kinesiology and will continue pursuing a master’s degree in recreation, sport and tourism.

–Field Level Media