Playing in his second year of college football, JT Haddan found success everywhere.
On the field, the Colorado State University-Pueblo ThunderWolves went 7-4.
In the classroom, the 2008 Moffat County High School graduate had a 3.6 grade-point average.
“It was a lot better this year,” he said. “Last year, I was a tight end, and I only got a couple of snaps a game.”
This year, Haddan’s rise up the depth chart coincided with a position change.
The former Bulldog running back and inside linebacker was moved to center, meaning he was playing offensive line for the first time since sixth grade.
“They moved me to the offensive line, and that’s where I belong,” he said. “I think I benefited because I was more athletic coming from other positions.”
The move also meant Haddan had to bulk up from 225 to 275 pounds in one year.
“I ate a lot,” he said. “I lifted a lot, too.”
That dedication paid off, as Haddan was named to the National Football Foundation’s All-Colorado second team.
The All-Colorado team included Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Haddan, along with teammate Jamaal Johnson, were named to the second team.
Fellow ThunderWolves Jesse Lewis and Chase Vaughn were named to the first team.
“I was kind of shocked,” Haddan said. “That’s with Air Force, Colorado and CSU. I was kind of surprised I’d made the team.”
While Haddan said he would much rather have his team claim the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship, the award still is an honor.
“It’s pretty nice, especially being an offensive lineman (because) you don’t get a lot of recognition,” he said. “But all I care about is the RMAC championship, getting into the playoffs. I don’t really care much about the individual awards.”
In its second year, the ThunderWolves football team was able to reverse a 4-7 record from a season ago.
“Last year was our first year as a program, so everybody’s head was kind of spinning,” Haddan said. “It was chaos. But after a full year, you know everybody, you know what they are going to do on the field and you learn to trust the guy next to you.”
A full year also had the players tuned into the system.
“You don’t have to think about what you’re doing because you know the system,” Haddan said. “You just do it.”
The highlight of Haddan’s year was topping conference rival Chadron State.
“They had a 23-game conference winning streak,” he said. “Our coach told us they were a beatable team. We had the tools to beat them, and we believed we could win.”
In contrast to adapting to college football, where the players are bigger and faster, Haddan said he has had no problems adjusting to life away from home.
“It’s kind of weird because you have to support yourself, you don’t have your parents around,” he said. “You have to make your own decisions and cook for yourself.”
But,the football schedule takes up a lot his time, Haddan said.
“I had a lot more free time two years ago,” he said. “It’s pretty much a full-time job playing college football.”
Haddan has decided to major in exercise science.
“I’d like to be a strength and conditioning or football coach,” he said.
In the classroom, Haddan has found success.
“I was honorable mention RMAC academic team,” he said. “That one’s better than the other one. Academics will take you farther in life,because you can only play for so long.”
Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.