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His diet had dwindled down to a cup of oatmeal in the morning, lettuce and broccoli for lunch, a minimal dinner and then consuming nothing from 5:30 p.m. until the next morning. "Overall, I looked good," he says. "I wanted to be a fitness model at one point. But I wasn’t healthy."
He was less healthy after tearing a quad in the 2011 spring game.
"I had no muscle there," he says. "I was just kind of hanging on for dear life."
With the support of his family, he snapped out of his stubborn devotion to rabbit food and settled on a regular healthy daily intake. He recovered from the quad injury to contribute on defense and special teams in 2011 and set up himself for a productive senior season in 2012.
A lid was slammed on that production when he first took a helmet to his calf in the Utah game, and then ripped two separate muscles in that same calf at Boise State. Once again, his season – and maybe his football career – was over.
"They’d never seen an injury like that in our training room," he says. "My calf was mutilated. It was more pain than I’d ever felt."
In January, though, Hague decided he wasn’t done yet when he got a medical-hardship allowance to come back for one more year. Resiliency or foolishness?
It got worse.
During a spring workout session, Hague felt something strange in his left leg while running. The tendon connecting the hip to the knee went berserk. Team doctors did a scope, which didn’t correct the problem. In June, he saw a specialist who told Hague he had a serious issue with something called the IT band. The doctor says only one in 500 people with the same condition needed surgery, and Hague was the one.
The physician cut into the outside of the player’s knee — a long scar is plainly visible — and sliced the band, then punctured it over and over to help stretch out the thing. Then Hague had to rest it and eventually rehab over a two- to three-month period. He was supposed to be back for the Utah game, but he says he’ll be ready for Virginia in the season opener.
"If I lined up today," he says, "I’d be 110 percent."
Anybody believe that? Well … Hague does.
Looking back over his rolling experience at BYU, he shakes his head at what has happened to him. He says he’s the old, broken-down man on a team older than most, and he sometimes feels totally out of place with the 18- and 19-year-olds around him. He already has his degree and might have moved on, except that he says he always was taught by his parents to "endure."
So he has.
"I committed to something and I want to finish it," Hague says. "Until this year is over, I wouldn’t feel as if I fulfilled my commitment here. When this season ends, I can put it all to rest and feel good about contributing everything I had. I got knocked down — a lot. But I learned to get back up, to keep doing what I love doing … no matter what."
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.
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