While most of the focus in Washington State’s opening football game has been on new coach Mike Leach, for some Mid-Columbians it’s all about the blue and white.
Five area football players are on the Brigham Young University roster and will be hoping to make Leach’s debut with his Cougars a bad one.
“It is going to be fun,” said Spencer Hadley, a 2008 Connell High School graduate. “All my friends are Washington State fans, but I’ve grown up a BYU fan and always rooted for them.”
Hadley, who is a junior, is joined on the BYU roster by two other Connell High grads — his younger brother Matt, and Tyson Brook. Richland High graduate Sawyer Powell and Southridge High’s Jason Munns are also on the team.
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Only the two Hadleys are likely to see playing time during the season opener for both teams at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in Provo, Utah.
And if they do make it onto the field at the same time, it will be a first, as the brothers have never played together except in practice this summer.
“The first time we were on the field together I didn’t even notice,” said Spencer, an outside linebacker. “The play was half over and I realized he was out there with me. I realized, ‘Hey, that is Matt!’ It was pretty cool. Pretty fun.”
The pair hoped to be on the field a lot together this fall, though it will depend on Spencer continuing to improve at his new position and Matt learning how to play defense at the NCAA Division I level.
Spencer played inside linebacker last year, but the coaching staff moved him to the outside this season “where he can use his athleticism,” said Nick Howell, BYU secondary coach. “His learning curve has done really, really well. He is super athletic and doing really well. We are excited about him.”
Spencer found out about the move in the offseason, and has put in plenty of time to learn the new position.
“I had a good spring, and this summer we spent a lot of time as team together doing player-run practices and whatnot. I’m feeling pretty comfortable now. There is always something to learn, something to do,” he said.
Matt, who set the state record for career touchdowns last season at Connell, is still transitioning to playing the defense full-time. He did play safety for Connell, but his most notable play came on offense.
According to Howell, Matt is No. 3 on the depth chart in the secondary, and is also battling for time on special teams.“He’s done very, very well,” Howell said. “He plays really hard and has learned his new position and is doing really well.”
Matt Hadley was not available for an interview because of team rules regarding freshman players who have yet to play in a game.
Fighting Hadley for time in the secondary is Powell, who is No. 4 on the depth chart, according to Howell.
“He is learning and progressing and doing very well,” Howell said.
Munns, a junior quarterback, played two drives in a scrimmage Aug. 9, but hasn’t gotten much playing time beyond that.