Being a part of something special

After getting injured last season, defensive back Mike Hague is excited to return to the rigorous grind that is BYU football. He feels BYU's defense is special and wants to be a bigger part of it this year. He'll also play more boundary corner now that Trent Trammell has gone down with an injury.

Mike Hague was able to come back for another year. The last remaining member of the 2006 class, Hague was granted another year by the NCAA after suffering an injury that caused him to miss nine games his senior season.

"It feels good," Hague said. "If it didn't feel good I wouldn't be back, and I went into spring wondering if it was the right decision but it was confirmed pretty quick."

Hague's return to the Cougar defensive backfield will provide much needed depth, which has been an issue. The issue worsened when corner Trent Trammell tore his ACL on the first day of spring camp.

"Me and Trent were both going to play boundary and I was going to be the utility guy playing nickel, free, and boundary – whatever I needed to do," said Hague.

However, now that Trammell will have surgery and redshirt this season, Hague will have to step up.

"When Trent went down it solidified the role that I was going to play a little more boundary, which I'm okay with," said Hague. "I know how to play it, but it's a different game than free and nickel."

Hague has practice at multiple positions in the secondary. Come fall camp, and the season, his role as a utility player could return depending on the level of talent developed at the boundary position.

"Plans going into spring was to be the utility right off the bat," said Hague. "I think that has been my label. I kind of gave myself that label because I told the coaches I would play wherever they needed me to play. Because I think the size that I am, the weight that I am, the way that I move, by making myself a versatile guy I increased my stock.

"I didn't want to lock myself into one position. I said I will play whatever I have to and I'm okay with that. I have embraced that role, so if one play I'm the boundary, and the next I'm a nickel, and the next play I'm at free, I don't care. I know all the positions and hopefully I play them all effectively and not compromise the defense in doing so."

On the first day of spring camp, Trammell was going as hard as he could to adapt to the level of speed and skill found in Division I football. His effort level to beat every receiver was visibly clear, and on the first day of spring camp it cost him.

"Trent came in and embraced the program, embraced the scheme and bought into who we are and what we do on defense and was working really hard," said Hague. "It was unfortunate because we love the guy already. It was really sad, a tragedy actually and that is the way we feel about it."

Spring camp is a time in which players bond with each other as teammates. It's a time when competition lends to personal development, and when players learn to become a more cohesive group.

"I think it's really important and it would have been nice to have Trent on board for that, but the first thing he said to me [Wednesday] was, ‘I really wish I could play with y'all this fall,'" said Hague. "Seeing him say something like that shows that we have a really tight group, not only in the back four but the starting defense and the team in general at this point. I feel like if anything, it will bring us closer together and we'll be a better team because of it. You know, you always have injuries like this and it defiantly puts holes in the defense, and it makes our depth a little more shallow, but at the end of the day you band together and become a better team because of it."

Despite his devastating injury, Trammell came back out to practice the following session to be with his teammates. He hobbled around gingerly from place to place in a show of support.

"He was helping out on a drill with an iPad [Wednesday] and he looked like a coach, and I threw him the ball and he didn't put his iPad down and caught it with one hand," Hague said with a smile. "I said, ‘Hey Coach Trent! Are you accepting that role now?' It's amazing to see a guy as vocal as him in meetings and even coach and ask questions."

Trammell has embraced everything that is BYU with open arms according to Hague.

"Our defense is a complex system," Hague said. "It's a language, and so to see a guy learning it, understanding and to see it is great. I think he will have [two] years after this year, so to see him embracing the system he has bought into – and there are not many guys that would go out and act the way he has acted since he got injured –we're extremely proud of him for that and we respect him a lot for that."

Meanwhile, Hague revealed that BYU's new type of offense has pressured and strained the defense.

"That was the hardest practice I have ever had here at BYU," Hague said following Wednesday's practice. "The way they were running and their system, I think it's great. Usually when we go against our offense we don't get tired, but today we were all tired. It's absolutely going to push us. It's nice to see them working really hard. It's good to see them coming together and have 13-to-15-play drives and making us sweat to get off the field. That is nice to see."

BYU's defense was one of the highest ranked nationally last year. This year it will be difficult to match last year's performance, especially with the caliber of schedule BYU plays.

"Not that numbers really matter, but we were the number third ranked defense in the country last year," Hague said. "You see Kyle [Van Noy] coming back, and Coach asked if I wanted to come back another year and I said, ‘Yeah!' He said, ‘Why do you want to do that?' Our defense is something special, and I wouldn't be coming back if I didn't think we could play in a BCS game and be the best defense in the country. That's what I think. I think our scheme is great and I think our athletes are great. I think the unity we have on this defense is something special."

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