UNLV’s Tim Hasson a made-for-football tale

Posted: August 29, 2013 in NCAAF
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Hasson Tim running by IIA

UNLV senior Tim Hasson went from being a walk-on receiver to a starting linebacker for the Rebels.

By W.G. Ramirez

Tim Hasson is the perfect love-for-football story.

In high school, he played as a freshman, skipped his sophomore season and made a comeback as a junior at Cimarron-Memorial. And though he thrived for the Spartans as a wide receiver, he routinely offered to play anywhere the team needed him on defense while the first-team offense was taking a breather at practice.

“He just loved to play,” said Rod Vollan, who coached Hasson at Cimarron. “He was incredibly smart, he was dependable, he showed up to practice, he worked hard … he was just a great kid to coach.”

That’s why, Vollan says, after Hasson’s stellar senior campaign – which saw him earn first team all-Northwest honors after recording 10 or more tackles, finishing with 106 takedowns – and opening some eyes at the local all-star game, it was no surprise his former star earned a starting role with the UNLV Rebels after accepting an invite to walk-on at Rebel Park.

“He went out and earned it; he had the opportunity to walk on and then he went out and earned it,” Vollan said. “In the real world you don’t get things handed to you. He is a great ambassador for that program.”

This is why it’ll be a bit special for the 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior linebacker when he takes the field for the Rebels tonight at 4 pacific in Minneapolis against Minnesota.

“Tim is a great story, a great example for young players coming into college,” coach Bobby Hauck said. “He showed up here as a walk-on wide receiver and three weeks later he was actually playing in a game as an outside linebacker. Those sorts of things do happen. He kind of got thrown in the fire, shouldn’t have been that way, but that’s the way it was and he kind of lived through it and he’s become a really good football player.”

Hasson, the team’s leading returning tackler from last season, has played in all 38 games as a Rebel and this year Hauck says he’s counting on him to lead a defensive unit that is under pressure to produce.

“I’ve been doing stuff mentally and physically, trying to get stronger in the weight room and working on speed,” Hasson said. “I’ve been doing extra work in the film room and trying to become a smarter player because I feel like that’s something I can use to my advantage on the field, to try to help me make more plays and harder plays.”

No surprise there, as it sounds exactly like the go-getter both Vollan and Hauck described. If there is any one on this year’s roster who deserves a run to bowl eligibility – 6 regular-season wins – it’s Hasson, who said he’s worked extensively during the off-season for his senior campaign.

Anything would help, as the Rebels had one of the most porous defensive units in the Mountain West last year, and need improvement with this season if they’re going to make a run to the postseason.

“Defense and UNLV haven’t been synonymous necessarily in a long time and we want to play good team defense and Tim’s a big part of that,” Hauck said. “He’s one of the leaders on our team, one of the leaders on our defense, and I expect a big year out of him.”

First and foremost, for both Hasson and his Rebel teammates, are to try to shake a 22-game road losing streak that stretches back to the previous coaching staff, under former coach Mike Sanford. Under Hauck, the Rebels have lost 20 straight with a suitcase in hand. But after challenging Minnesota to triple-overtime in last year’s season opener at Sam Boyd Stadium, there’s a sense of pride and confidence that streak-buster could come as soon as tonight.

“It would be a big sigh of relief,” Hasson said “There has been a lot of talk as far as why we can’t get a road win. That’s something we focus on as a team – coaches and players – this offseason, we talked about it. The only difference is the other team has people in the stands cheering for them, that’s the only difference, which shouldn’t even affect us. So that’s something we really (have) been stressing a lot here. I know we can win on the road.

“I’m ready, I feel like our coaches have done a great job in preparing us. We have a lot of guys eager to play and eager to get better. I feel like we’ve got a good group of guys out there and I’m ready to get out there on the field with them and go to work. I want to do the best for my team, but it does feel good … this is my state, so (I want) to try to go out there and represent and do the best I can to help my team win so people can feel proud.”

Sounds like the perfect love-for-football tale.

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