Should Mike Hague move back to running back?

Mike Hague joined the Brigham Young Cougars in 2006 and played running back that season. Following his sophomore season in 2010, it appeared he would never get the chance to see the field if he stayed at running back. This prompted a switch to defensive back. With Joshua Quezada deciding to transfer, maybe Hague should return to the offensive backfield.

Hague came to BYU after rushing for 2,001 yards and 28 touchdowns his senior year at Brighton High School. The Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune both named Hague the Class 5A MVP for 2005. He was clocked at 4.5 in the 40 in high school.

As a true freshman in 2006, Hague rushed for 156 yards on 21 carries and scored one touchdown. His 87-yard touchdown run is still the longest run by any BYU back since 2003. Following missionary service, Hague had 4 carries for 15 yards in the first three games of 2009 before he was injured for the rest of the season and forced to redshirt. In 2010, he was limited to 4 carries for 12 yards, as he was used in more of a fullback role.

While Hague was being used as a substitute fullback, an up-and-coming true freshman was being hailed as the future for the Cougars at running back. It appeared Hague's services were no longer needed as a running back. In order to make the most out of his final two seasons, Hague tried a move to defensive back.

Who was that up-and-coming player? Joshua Quezada.

Quezada’s transfer is the third departure from the Cougars backfield since the 2011 season finished. J.J. Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya graduated. What was once a crowded house now feels empty.

Michael Alisa is the only running back with significant playing experience on the BYU roster. However, just as 2011 showed with Quezada, there are no guarantees that Alisa will become a bona fide feature back.

Hague is now a senior. He has invested over a year in defensive training. Why would he consider going back to running back? Simple. The defensive backfield is now as crowded as the offensive backfield used to be.

Three of the four starting defensive back spots are locked down: Preston Hadley and Jordan Johnson at cornerback, and Daniel Sorensen at strong safety. Hague and Joe Sampson were considered the top two candidates for the free safety spot during spring practices.

Although nothing definitive has been said, all signs point to Sampson being the starter if the season started today. He saw significant playing time in 2011, and got most of the reps at free safety during the spring. Hague spent most his time at cornerback.

A third candidate will enter the picture when fall camp opens: Craig Bills.

Bills was very impressive as a true freshman in 2009. He even started one game. Despite missing the last two years while serving a mission, the coaches don’t appear to have any intention of waiting to play Bills.

Whether cornerback or free safety, the best case scenario for Hague appears to be no. 2 on the depth chart, and landing at no. 3 seems possible.

On offense, Hague has just as good of a chance to claim that number two running back spot as anybody. In terms of experience, only David Foote (21 carries, 201 yards, 1 TD) rivals Hague (29 carries, 193 yards, 1 TD). The other hopefuls are a redshirt freshman, a true freshman, and a converted rugby player. Following spring, the coaches didn’t make any glowing statements about the progress of Adam Hine. Although he did receive a scholarship, rugby star Paul Lasike should be considered more of a project at this point.

A year ago in a Deseret News article, Hague said he was willing to switch back to running back if the team needed him. It may be too early to tell now, but depending on how things shake out the first week or two of camp, Hague could be of most value to the team at running back.

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  1. From what I can see, Hague is going to see much more time on the field as a DB than he would as a RB.

    Hague is currently #2 at both free safety and boundary corner. Not only that, but BYU is likely to play a fair amount of nickle during the season with Hague the most likely candidate to be that 5th DB.

    In addition to that, there is less deapth at DB than RB. Behind Hague at BC is Dequan Everret whose athleticism is off the charts, but simply has not shown the intellegence, skills, and awareness to be a passable corner at the FBS level. There is a reason that a converted RB playing safety, crosstraining as a CB is ahead of him on the deapth chart.

    FS is a little better off with Bills, but he is fresh off his mission. After that there isn't really anybody left. Sure there names on the deapth chart, but they have no experience and are either strait off their missions of fresh out of high school.

    At running back there is more deapth. Alisa is a Doak Walker Candidate.

    You say Lasike should be considered a project, but he was #3 on the deapth chart ahead of Foote, Hine, and Williams. Plus he was good enough to earn a scholorship after only playing a couple weeks of organized football at a position that you yourself aid was overcrowded at the time.

    Look at how long it took other recent walk ons to earn scholorships. Ben Criddle, Andrew Rich, and JD Falslev started for an entire season before the were offered scholorships. Lasike, who was playing organized football for the first time in his life, was offered a scholorship after a couple weeks.

    Paul may be a project, but I'd be shocked if he is not the #2 RB by midseason and I think he will be there as early as the end of fall camp.

    Then there is Foote. Foote and Hague appear similar at the runningback position except Foote has better stats. Even if Lasike is mile away from being a real option, Hague would be a redundandt back up at RB. At DB he is clearly significantly better than the #3 options.

    You mention his stats. Overall he is averaging about 6.5 ypc. The problem is that if you take away his 87 yard run against UNLV (which was a result of multiple defenders being out of place) Hague averaged less than 3.5 ypc against 2nd and 3rd string defenses. That is just not impressive.

    Keep him at DB. He will see more playing time and will be more valuable to the Cougars at that position

    1. In light of the loss of Chambers and Buckner (if even just temporarily), I think Hague is better off, and needed more, at DB. Which is why I noted at the end, "It may be too early to tell now, but depending on how things shake out the first week or two of camp."

      Hague will probably be the primary nickel back now. When I wrote this, it was done with the premise that Chambers would continue to impress in fall camp and earn the nickel back spot. Rather than have one senior sit and watch, maybe both could see the field.

      Don't underestimate Bills' ability to return "in game shape" like Sorensen did last year. And don't underestimate the coaches' desire to see him play.

      Despite all the good signs for Lasike, based on how we have seen the coaches treat Ansah, I prefer to call Lasike a "project" than a "viable solution." After what happened with Heaps, Jacobson, and Quezada, I think we all need to be more careful about "couting out chickens before they hatch." Any kind of typical progression curve has come into doubt, and all players are subject to it. (Don't get me wrong, it would be awesome to see Lasike come over from Rugby and immediately excel.)

      Don't forget that Foote's stats are inflated, too, due to a 56 yard run in scrub time and a 21 yard fake punt run. Foote wasn't even a running back in HS. Hague ran for 2K as a senior.

      In additon to all the other reasons mentioned, I like Hague and want to see him get to play his senior year. With all the developments that have been, or could happen, it was starting to look like he would again be the odd one out.


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