Competitiveness Gets Hustad Back on Field

Any competitive person absolutely can't stand to be on the sidelines watching his teammates play. That is why the knee injury that prevented Matt Hustad from seeing the field at all in his Sun Devil career has absolutely eaten him alive. But when ASU takes the field at Cal, the hard working and versatile Hustad could make his first appearance in the maroon and gold, perhaps even as a starter.

"This is the longest I have went without being in any sport," said Hustad, "When I wasn't competing or playing a sport, I just felt like it wasn't me. I'm a competitive guy, I just love going out and playing."

Hustad is thrilled to be in the mix to start at right tackle. His first step on a football field in college could be as a starter at Cal.

"It feels great," he commented. "I knew it was going to take a little while, I got lucky enough to take the position, but I still have a lot to prove and to go."

Head Coach Dennis Erickson stated that Hustad could legitimately play any position on the front five, but Hustad claimed that his favorite position is tackle. "I think I'm best suited for tackle because I'm not quite as heavy to be inside for guard, yet," said the 6-4 287 lineman.

Hustad thinks his versatility comes from playing multiple sports. Now a days athletes tend to focus on playing just one sport in high school, but Hustad remarked that being a three-sport star in high school is why he is where he is today.

"Growing up I never stuck to one sport," explained Hustad, "From when I was six or seven years old, to the end of high school, I was playing three sports a year. I think that helped me become a well rounded athlete."

A knee injury forced Hustad to redshirt last season. Even though it was a tough road back, he admitted that the hiatus has helped him in the long run. Hustad said he still learned a lot last season, even though he didn't see the field.

"I didn't play but there was a great group of seniors last year," Hustad recalled. "Even though I wasn't playing, I remember Brandon Rodd helped me with kick steps and they really helped me out."

Hustad won the Hard Hat Award in the offseason, which is given to the player that works the hardest in the off-season strength and conditioning program. Hustad knew that he had to outwork the competition and get bigger in order to have a shot to play for the Devils this season.

"Coming in, I weighed 255," said Hustad, "I knew if I was going to compete, I'd have to hit the weights hard and try to work harder than everyone else. I worked as hard as I can and so far it has helped."

Some good may have came out of the injury, as in the midst of rehab, Hustad found his future career. After working with his physical therapist, Hustad could see himself in that line of work and helping other athletes. Consequently, Hustad is a Kinesiology major at ASU.

Hustad is glad that he gets another week of practice before being thrown out into Pac-10 play. Hustad has had only three practices as the starting right tackle.

"I'm kind of glad it is a bye week," joked Hustad, "I'm glad I get a little more time to polish up."

The redshirt freshman from Helena, Montana is expected to come in and help an offensive line that has taken a lot of criticism in the Dennis Erickson Era. Hustad commented that the line as a whole doesn't care what the critics are saying and just strive to prove people wrong.

"We try to just worry about ourselves," explained Hustad, "We are not looking at the people on the outside criticizing us, we just pay attention to our coaches, it's our team and our family. We just work as hard as we can to get better."

Hustad didn't deny that the unit needs improvement and said the only way to quiet critics is to prove that they are capable.

"Of course we do," said Hustad when asked if the line played with a chip on its shoulder, "We need to go out and prove ourselves. I don't think we have much respect right now, wherever we go. We just have to keep getting better and work harder."

After two straight losses, some might think the team's attitude is down and heading south, but Hustad stated the team is past that and ready to start winning again.

"Yeah," said Hustad without a hesitation, "Even in the Georgia game, despite the loss, looking at the film we can see we got a lot better. Just a lot more passion out there, I think we are going to start a pretty good run."

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