Brent Hanson broke two vertebrae while playing football for Ole Miss.
The injury ended the hopes of Hanson, a preferred walk-on at the time, from ever playing guard or tackle in the Southeastern Conference or, perhaps, the NFL.
Nearly 18 months after surgery, Hanson swings a golf club without any pain. He picked up clubs for the first time about two months ago at the insistence of his UTC roommate.
"The first time made me sore," Hanson said. "But I actually think golf helps my back."
Hanson now swats golf balls a couple of times a week instead of lining up against Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Peria Jerry.
"In practice, he'd take it easy on me if I told him where the play was going," said Hanson, who traveled with the team to the Cotton Bowl.
"We got star treatment the whole time we were there," Hanson said. "I got a 32-inch flat-screen for free, all kinds of clothes and shoes and a nice watch."
Back to full health, Hanson is learning a sport he can play for the rest of his life.
"I've kind of gotten hooked on it, and it's probably the toughest sport I've played," Hanson said. "It's hard to not slice and keep your mind into it."