As a running back in the state of Washington, Matt Hadley broke a state record after a stellar junior.
“I set tied the record for rushing touchdowns last year,” said Hadley. “I scored 50 touchdowns last season during my junior year, and I broke the state record this year for the most touchdowns for a career. I'm at 114 career touchdowns right now.”
“The previous record holder was Kirby Moore, who is a receiver at Boise State. He played at Prosser High School – which is not too far from here – and was the previous holder of that record. It’s pretty cool to beat that record.”
At Connell High School last season, Hadley racked up some gaudy yardage numbers to go with those 50 touchdowns.
“Last year I was right at around 2,600 yards,” he said. “This year I'm not quite sure how many rushing yards I have. If I were to take a stab at it, I would say it’s around 1,700 rushing yards or so this year. We just finished the regular season and so far I’ve scored 27.”
A fast player at 5 feet 11 inches and 208 pounds, Hadley contributes in more ways than just playing running back.
“Yeah, on offense I play running back but my coaches will also put me out at slot receiver once in a while,” he said. “I’ve scored two receiving touchdowns this year and they kind of use me in different areas.
“I also do punt return and kick return on special teams. On defense I play strong safety. It’s a lot of fun because on our defense we run a 4-3 and our strong safety comes down a lot in our cover-three, so the strong safety is kind of like a linebacker. When we get into our base 3-4, then I'm a true free safety.”
Hadley is pushing towards setting a few other records.
“There are some things that I'm getting close to breaking,” Hadley said. “I'm currently fourth for rushing yards in a single season, but the most rushing yards set in a single career was set by Jonathan Stewart, and if we make it all the way of making it to the state championship, I have a pretty good shot of getting close to that. I’m also close to breaking the record of having the most points for a career.”
Last year, Hadley received quite a bit of recruiting attention. Although firmly committed to BYU, that hasn’t changed much; he’s still receiving some interest from other college programs.
“Last year I was getting hit pretty hard,” he said. “This year, as well as last year, Stanford has been showing some interest still. I get stuff from the University of Oregon, the University of Washington, Harvard, Princeton, Utah State, the University of Utah, Boise State, Arizona State, USC, Nebraska, and all those are in football.
“They’ll send me letter and some have given my coach a call here and there or emails. You know, it’s just stuff to see if I would take the action to pursue them. I think maybe if I had reached out to them their interest might have been something more, but I'm not interested in any other school but BYU. I look at it as a compliment.”
Colleges aren’t just looking at Hadley to play football.
“There have been colleges that have shown interest in me for track,” he said. “I got LSU and TCU for track and I thought that was really cool because LSU is a great program for track and have been sending me letters.”
BYU is indeed planning on Hadley playing football. Though he’s been very successful on offense, the Cougars are looking to have him play defense.
“They want me at safety,” Hadley said. “Yeah, they like me at safety and I trust their judgment 100 percent. Some people in the community here have said, ‘Hey, you have all these records at running back and BYU wants to play you at safety?’ I just trust in the coaches and they know what they’re doing. I do whatever it takes to get out on the field. I'm excited to play, especially to be on the same side of the ball as my brother Spencer.”
Spencer is also looking forward to playing with Matt.
“Yeah, [Spencer] wanted me to graduate in December so I could enroll at BYU in January,” said Hadley. “There were some complications with some new required courses at school to graduate. I'm also in leadership at school, so that’s taking up one of my classes, so I couldn’t take this new class.
“Now I have to do the whole online thing and just got started too late. I talked to my councilor, but yeah, my brother wanted me to come down early for the next spring ball to play with him and get my name out there early.”
Getting an opportunity to play on the team together is a big one for the Hadley brothers.
“Yeah, I'm really excited about playing with my brother and that’s a dream come true,” Hadley said. “I'm four years behind him, so we’ve never gotten the chance. When I was in the eighth grade he was a senior and by the time I got to high school he was gone. It’s been my dream to be out on the same field as him. When it comes to football, that guy is my hero.”
But the excitement doesn’t stop there for Hadley. He will get to also play with his cousins Austen and Colby Jorgensen.
“We’ve always been really close to that side of the family,” said Hadley. “I mean, to be able to play with my brother is a dream come true, but to be able to play with Austen and Colby too is just going to be a ton of fun. I'm super excited about that.”
The Hadley family recently discovered that they have yet another relative on BYU’s roster.
“Yeah, we are distant cousins with Preston Hadley, who is the starting cornerback at BYU,” said Hadley. “I guess our great grandfathers are brothers or first cousins or something like that. Spencer did most of the investigating and actually called my grandfather up, and then Preston talked to his parents. I think then they did some investigating themselves and were able to trace the family connection. It’s cool, really cool to know that Preston Hadley is also related to us.”
While Matt Hadley won’t be participating at BYU this spring, he will join the team for next fall camp.
“I’ll be there for the whole season next fall and be there for a semester,” Hadley said. “I’ll be there for the entire season before I go on my mission, so I’ll be able to play with my brother and all my cousins next season. I'm hoping to have all my stuff done so I can leave on my mission in January. At least that’s the plan right now.”