BOZEMAN — A few weeks ago, Byron Hout couldn’t help but tease Jacob Haldey, the newest member of his defensive line.
“I said, ‘I haven’t seen you pick off a ball yet,’ and he said, ‘Coach, they are scared to throw it to my side,” Hout, Montana State’s third-year defensive line coach, said last month. “That’s what you want. You want them to fear you.”
The fear Hadley can strike into opposing offenses has largely been relegated to fall camp and spring practices during his injury-riddled time at Montana State. The 6-foot-6 raw athlete out of Billings Central came to MSU as a partial scholarship player who head coach Jeff Choate initially thought might play cornerback or wide receiver.
Choate and defensive coordinator Ty Gregorak quickly recognized Hadley’s interest in initiating contact and moved him to strong safety, a spot he played in three games at as a true freshman. But wrist and shoulder injuries ended that 2016 campaign before Big Sky Conference play began, allowing Hadley to take a redshirt. The experience helped him “really learn” the Montana State defense from the back end.
Last spring, Hadley had built himself up physically. His 225-pound frame coupled with a shortage on the second level of the MSU defense caused for him to move Sam linebacker. That position switch enabled All-American Mac Bignell to move to Will linebacker.
Hadley solidified himself as a player both Choate and Gregorak praised frequently without solicitation because of his ability to make plays on both ball carriers and balls in the air. On the final day of spring practice, the potential for Hadley’s redshirt freshman season ended in the blink of an eye.
Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved.