“(Haddan) is so unselfish and I knew I could always count on him. He was like a coach on the field for me and he would help the younger guys by showing patience and helping them develop. In the past three years, he has never missed a game, never missed a workout and never missed a practice.”
Chris Symington, Colorado State University-Pueblo offensive line coach about Moffat County High School alum JT Haddan.
Offensive linemen are often overlooked.
The men in the trenches are critical to the success of every play, but skill players usually get the credit.
However, with football season now over, JT Haddan, a 2008 Moffat County High School graduate, is receiving recognition for his play as an offensive guard for the Colorado State University-Pueblo football team.
Haddan on Jan. 4 received first-team all-region honors from Don Hansen’s Football Gazette.
The same publication named Haddan a NCAA Division II third-team All-American selection Jan. 19.
“I was pretty surprised,” Haddan said of the honors. “It feels pretty good to see my name out there. But, it wasn’t an individual thing, but rather a team deal, really. If you can trust the other linemen next to you, it makes your job a lot easier.”
The Thunderwolves capped their most successful season yet with seven All-American selections and 16 all-region players.
CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II poll, as well as earning a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
The Thunderwolves, who were the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champions, lost to Minnesota-Duluth in the second round and ranked ninth in the final polls.
Haddan said Minnesota-Duluth, who won the Division II title in 2010, was one of the better teams CSU-Pueblo played this season.
“They were really physical and tried to control the line of scrimmage, and I think they would have definitely been at the top of our conference,” he said. “It was definitely a good experience to be able to play in the playoffs. It was a lot more intense and everything was more amplified.”
Haddan said his favorite moment from the remarkable season was a 48-7 victory over Western New Mexico in the regular season finale to clinch the RMAC championship.
“It was pretty unbelievable to be able to do that in our last game,” he said. “It is the first championship we have won since I’ve been here and we just had a lot of guys giving it their all.”
Haddan said linemen might be the most dedicated group on the football field.
Whether putting in extra hours in the weight room or showing up for more conditioning, he said everyone wanted to improve.
“Over the spring and summer, we all just worked really hard,” Haddan said. “We always did things as a group, and just getting another year in to play with each other helped a lot.”
Chris Symington, the Thunderwolves offensive line coach, said Haddan is a one-of-a-kind athlete.
“Plain and simple, (Haddan) is probably the most dedicated and hard-working leader and football player I have been associated with in my 24 years of coaching,” Symington said. “He comes early and stays late and leads by example. He takes coaching very well and is very dependable and probably the most consistent guy I have ever been around.”
Haddan played running back and linebacker at MCHS and made the change to offensive lineman in college.
Last season, he rotated between center and guard before filling the guard position permanently this year.
Symington said it’s Haddan’s versatility that makes him so valuable.
“(Haddan) is so unselfish and I knew I could always count on him,” he said. “He was like a coach on the field for me and he would help the younger guys by showing patience and helping them develop.
“In the past three years, he has never missed a game, never missed a workout and never missed a practice.”
Haddan, a senior at CSU-Pueblo, suffered a knee injury in his freshman year, so he will petition to earn another year of eligibility for next season.
If this was his last season, however, Haddan said it would be a great season to go out on, even without the awards.
“It is fine by us linemen that we don’t get the attention,” he said. “We just do our jobs and we are proud of it, so we don’t have a reason to need the attention.”
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