Jaxen Hashley grew up in a Bobcat household the son of a Bobcat legend. Some of Hashley’s fondest memories of childhood are of coming to Bozeman for Montana State football games and stopping in to Brick Breeden Fieldhouse to see his dad’s picture on the wall.
Still, Bob Stitt and the Montana Grizzlies caused Hashley to contemplate his decision for his future. Montana brought the Kalispell Glacier standout defensive lineman to individual camp and recruited him thoroughly the last few months. In the end, Hashley could not pass up the chance to follow in his father Doug’s footsteps and play for the Bobcats. Hashley gave his verbal commitment to Jeff Choate he will sign with MSU in February of 2017.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Bobcat since I was a kid,” Hashley said on Sunday afternoon from his home in Kalispell. “It’s always been my dream. Every time we came to Bozeman, I’d see my dad’s picture up at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Always being around Bozeman, I knew it was the place I wanted to be. There’s a lot of people that I already know there, great support already and I want to keep building on that.”
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Hashley earned Class AA second-team all-state honors as a defensive end and first-team all-state honors as a power forward as a sophomore. As a junior, Hashley tore the ACL in his right leg midway through the 2015 football season. He earned honorable mention all-state honors in football nonetheless but missed all of last basketball season.
Now healthy, Hashley’s frame and his explosiveness gave him a reputation as one of Montana’s top prospects despite the injury. Hashley’s recruitment picked up this spring and summer. For a moment, he considered the Grizzlies.
“They are a great program all around,” Hashley said. “Coach Stitt is a great guy. Coach Hendricks, the defensive line coach, talked to him a ton. He was really nice and he talked to me all about the defensive line, what they would want from me, how they work. They were great. You can’t deny what a great program they are so I had to at least consider it.”
The Hashley name is already entrenched in Montana State lore, albeit in Worthington Arena instead of Bobcat Stadium. Doug Hashley was a three-time All-Big Sky selection for the Bobcats, including earning first-team all-league honors in 1981. The Big Sandy product is the second-leading rebounder in school history and among the top 10 rebounders every to play in the Big Sky. He led the league in rebounding in 1982, posting a top 20 single-season mark in conference history. That season, Doug Hashley set a school record with 24 rebounds in a game against Nevada. He is also 12th in school history in scoring.
The Montana State Hall of Fame inductee (Class of 2008) helped Jaxen with his decision but did not pressure his son to follow in his footsteps.
“He always wanted me to be a Bobcat but from the very beginning, we talked and he was going to be there for me if I wanted to ask questions but he wanted me to explore my options and not feel pressured to go to MSU,” Hashley said. “Once it clicked, I wanted to be a Bobcat.”
As a sophomore, Hashley earned Class AA all-state honors on the hardwood by averaging 11 points and grabbing 9.5 rebounds per game. That same year, he realized his best athletic future might be on the football field.
“When I was a sophomore and I was 6-5, 250 pounds already, I thought to myself, ‘That’s not a basketball player’,” Hashley said. “Now it’s worked out perfectly.”
“Basketball has helped me without a doubt. All the running is a big one but just knowing (Bobcat commit) Tadan (Gilman) and playing basketball longer than we have played football, we have a connection where we know where each other are going to be and it’s translated so much into football.”
Gilman, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound athlete from Kalispell Glacier, is one of Hashley’s best friends. He verbally committed to Montana State earlier this week. He said he would encourage Hashley to join him but did not know what his friend was thinking in regard to his future. Days later, Hashley decided he wanted to join Gilman in Bozeman.
“I always knew I wanted to and I was leaning that way and then learning that one of my best friends since he moved here in first grade, I knew I had to go,” Hashley said.
Hashley and Gilman will join five other former Glacier players on the Bobcats. Two-time All-Big Sky center Joel Horn graduated following last season. Defensive end Devin Jeffries will be a fourth-year junior for the ‘Cats this fall. Sophomore running back Noah James is in his third year with the Bobcats. Linebacker Josh Hill, quarterback Brady McChesney and running back Logan Jones came to Montana State following Glacier’s state title two years ago. Glacier played for state titles in 2013 and 2014, claiming the school’s first state title two seasons ago.
“Josh Hill lives three houses down from me and he said the coaches are great, the intensity is awesome and you have this new kind of vibe in the air everyone is feeling,” Hashley said. “He said it’s like nothing else and that’s something I want to be a part of.”
Hashley blew out the ACL in his right leg six games into his junior season so he missed Glacier’s pursuit of a repeat state football title. The Wolfpack advanced to the Class AA semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Bozeman 22-16. Hashley wants to get back to the level his team played at his sophomore year. Making his decision before his senior season is the first step toward that goal.
“I went golfing in Great Falls with my brother-in-law’s brother who was a receiver for the Griz, Rob Schulte, and the one thing he said to me is that he suggested I make this decision before to get it off my shoulders,” Hashley said. “Now I can focus more on making my team better and not about me. I’ve already felt that weight off my shoulders and it’s a good feeling.”
Hashley has not decided what he is going to pursue academically but is interested in the sciences in hopes of pursuing a career in medicine or health care. No matter what he studies, Hashley is just happy that his future path will lead him to Bozeman.
“I’m honored, really just because of the opportunity I’m getting to be in Bozeman and play football, two things I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Hashley said. “I’ve always wanted to be a Bobcat and play. This is a dream come true.”