Moffat County High School senior J.T. Haddan will be heading off to Colorado State University at Pueblo next year where he will become a member of the school's first football team. Haddan also hopes to maintain his 3.9 GPA in college.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Moffat County High School senior J.T. Haddan will be heading off to Colorado State University at Pueblo next year where he will become a member of the school's first football team. Haddan also hopes to maintain his 3.9 GPA in college.

End in sight

High school football player has eyes on college academics, athletics

For more

Look for profiles of other Moffat County High School graduating seniors in future Education sections of the Saturday Morning Press.

Casual greetings from classmates follow J.T. Haddan, Moffat County High School senior, as he walks down the high school's halls.

The words "Moffat County Football" are printed in solid white letters on his blue shirt - the colors of the high school he will leave behind next month.

He'll also leave behind three titles.

As a sophomore, Haddan received All-Conference Honorable Mention for the Western Slope. The next year, he placed First-Team All-Conference and received All-State Honorable Mention.

Haddan is one of about 180 high school students in this year's graduating class, eight of whom received athletic scholarships.

But, apart from the titles and the T-shirt, there's a number that gives another view on Haddan's four years at the high school.

That number is 3.9, as in Haddan's grade point average.

It's one of his greatest high school accomplishments, he said, one he hopes to take with him to Colorado State University at Pueblo next fall.

The university's Pueblo campus is a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletics Conference and competes at the NCAA Division II level.

Haddan accepted a football scholarship from the university, making him a charter member of the school's new football team this year, said John Wristen, CSU-Pueblo head football coach.

There, Haddan plans to play either fullback or tight end.

Haddan's selection for the athletic scholarship depended on his record on the field and in the classroom, Wristen said.

"I thought he was a great athlete," he said. "I think he'd be a great fit for what we want to do offensively."

But, Wristen also had an eye out for more than an athletic physique.

A student's GPA is "one true measure of a kid's character," he said. "I'm looking for guys with 2.5 (GPAs) and higher."

Haddan's thoughts on making the team: "It's kind of cool, yeah," he said, "to be (part of) the first class that goes through there."

Understand, Haddan is a man of few words. He can sum up his football career in two sentences.

"I've been playing pretty much my whole life," he said. "I love it."

Yet, as the soft-spoken senior begins talking more about his high school football career, his eyes lighten.

That career was temporarily put on hold when he injured his knee during the third week of the season. As a result, he was unable to play the rest of the year.

"I knew I was going to play again," Haddan said.

His favorite part of the sport, he said, is "the team aspect."

"It takes 11 people doing everything right to accomplish everything," he said. "If one person screws up, nothing works. It has to be just right."

He doesn't yet know what he will study.

"I'm undecided," he said. "I'm going to take some general classes, see what I like."

He's not depending on a professional football career to take the choice from his hands.

Although Haddan would like to play professionally, "I'm not sure if it's something that could really happen."

Instead, he's been preparing for college by taking dual-credit courses at the high school, he said.

He doesn't expect maintaining a football scholarship and a lofty GPA to be an easy task.

"Football is going to take a lot of time, so you'll have less time to do homework," he said. His training will include practices, weight lifting and studying video recordings of his past games.

And, he doesn't anticipate that piloting a new football team will be any easier.

"Anytime you start something from scratch, it's going to be tough because we all want to compete at the highest level that first year," he said.

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