Frequent position shifts do not make life easy on players. Take offensive linemen Dallas Reynolds for instance. Last year the freshman All-American excelled next to his brother Lance and helped lead BYU's offense to a 462.4 yards per game average. Now playing offensive tackle, Reynolds will be the first to tell you that the switch was tough to grasp at first, but he was not asked to learn two separate positions at the same time.
This is exactly what has happened to true freshman Mike Hague. The 2005 Utah 5A Player of the Year was first recruited to play safety, but when he put up over 2,000 rushing yards as a senior, the Cougar coaches told Hague he could try running back. During voluntary summer practices Hague worked out at running back, then moved safety. In fall camp, he lasted less than a week at safety due to injuries to the Cougars' H receivers Nate Meikle and Bryce Mahuika. Hague took exclusive reps at H receiver from the second week of fall camp until yesterday. As of the close of Wednesday's practice, however, Hague was no longer just an H receiver.
"The [coaches] told me that they wanted me to start meeting with the running backs too," said Hague. "I took some reps with the team, and it felt good to be back playing running back. During the team reps I felt really good running the ball and everything just came back to me. I felt really good back there."
Freshman Harvey Unga is redshirting this season due to an injury, so Hague got the call to come in a shore up the running back spot. Hague was becoming comfortable as an H receiver, but he is pleased to get another chance at what he feels is his natural position.
"It's exciting and I'm glad to be back home," said Hague. "The H Position is home too now, but it's kind of nice to be able to play both positions at the same time. Not too many people ever get the chance to play two positions, and I've been fortunate enough to have this opportunity.
"Running back is my home but H is my new home, but now I'm back to my old home. I'm just kind of in between houses right now. The new home grew on me but it's good to be back at my old home again. I'm just glad I'm on offense."
If this keeps up, "Get Mike" could be the next catch phrase at BYU. If there is a sudden need at the safety position, "Get Mike." If the "H" or running back positions need to be filled by someone who can catch and run the ball, "Get Mike. So what is it like to have the athleticism to play multiple positions?
"I don't think I'm that athletic," laughed Hague. "I just think there are needs and the coaches will ask players to fill those needs. If they have a personnel issue and need a player to fill a spot on certain plays, I'm willing to do what I can to help the team. If I need to learn both positions, then I'm more than happy to do that in order to help fill the needs the coaches are looking to fill."
This weekend, Hague has the chance to see more playing time when Utah State visits LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"I'm just really excited because this is our first instate rival game," said Hague. "There's a high expectation, and I'm just really looking forward to the game. They aren't as good this year as they have been in recent years, but we can't look past that going into this game. They're still a football team and they still have athletes. I can contribute a lot in this game and that's what I want to happen. That's my goal. I just want to go out and help win this game if given the chance."
Hague views this game against Utah State as one that will help prepare the team for conference play.
"I think if we play well and execute in this game it will build our confidence for the next game," said Hague. "We're not going to use this game as a practice and that's not what we want to do at all. We want to take every game seriously to help prepare us to get rolling for conference play."
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