It was a rough road to achieving his dream, literally and figuratively.
A car accident, which nearly took his life, and a shoulder injury kept defensive end Terran Hasselbach sidelined for the first thee years of his prep career at Aurora (Colo.) Regis Jesuit.
Perseverance mixed with a great support system and a burning desire to prove doubters wrong helped keep the son of former Denver Broncos defensive end Harald Hasselbach from giving up on his dream. And that dream, of playing college football at Colorado, did not become a reality until earlier this month.
"The mantra I kind of had over the tough times was, 'just keep pushing through it,'" said Terran Hasselbach, who received and accepted an offer to play for the Buffaloes on Jan. 10.
The aforementioned car accident resulted in numerous injuries and is the reason he did not play high school football as a freshman and sophomore. As Hasselbach explains, his "lungs almost gave out."
"Almost losing your life and then not being able to play was really rough but I started to train with my dad at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic and I worked with [renowned NFL trainer] Loren Landow, who helped me a lot," he said. "I kept supportive of my team and after I missed my junior season with a freak shoulder accident, I was able to come back better than ever.
"It was a great feeling because a lot of people doubted me. I had to work through being the son of Harald Hasselbach because people heard a lot about me but never saw me play. Behind my back people would say things like, 'oh, he is this big shot, but he is never going to play again.' Being able to come out my senior year and prove those people wrong was pretty big for me."
Like he was shot out of a cannon, Hasselbach recorded 11 sacks, an eye-opening 35 quarterback hurries, 78 tackles and three caused fumbles while helping the Raiders to nine wins and a Continental League championship in 2013.
"I don't know if I would take getting injured back because if anything it changed my mentality a lot about the game and it made me appreciate it a lot more," Hasselbach said. "I play with a motor, I like to keep going because a play is never over until it is over. If you keep running to the ball, then there is an opportunity to make a play. That kind of goes with the 'just keep pushing through' work ethic I had when I was training before I could play."
Hasselbach was named All-Colorado by both the Denver Post and Mile High Sports. He was also named the 2013 Six Zero Strength Comeback Player of the Year in the state of Colorado.
11 colleges offered Hasselbach a scholarship and he initially verbally committed to Western Michigan in December before his dream school came calling.
"Colorado has been a school I have dreamed of going to since I was younger but I didn't think it was going to be an option," said Hasselbach. "I talked to [Buffs head] coach [Mike] MacIntyre early in the process but I didn't have an offer. So I went to Western Michigan and was pretty sold on that. I actually turned down Wyoming and some other closer schools. And then CU came into the picture and I couldn't turn them down.
"Obviously CU is close to home, and that is big, but they play in the Pac-12 and that is an even bigger deal to me. It is a really good school to go to even if I wasn't playing football. When I committed to Coach Mac and [wide receivers] coach [Troy] Walters, they were excited and it was a pretty cool feeling."
Hasselbach said he is being recruited by the Buffaloes to play a hybrid rush end role. He took his official visit to Colorado this past weekend and was hosted by senior defensive end Juda Parker.
"My visit went really well. It was great to get the opportunity to meet the staff and other recruits and gain a team bond a little early," said Hasselbach, who stands 6-foot-1, 235-pounds. "The facilities are incredible. More than anything, though, the coaching staff stuck out to me."
When Hasselbach arrives at Colorado this summer, he said he will bring the same "spirit and work ethic" that helped him carry on through adversity before.
"I have a good mentality and I see a lot of potential in the CU program," he said.