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By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman Jason Hatcher has played in all seven games at defensive end and/or linebacker and has 15 tackles and two quarterback hits.
“Jason for a freshman and what he has been doing is unbelievable. He works and wants to be good,” Brumbaugh said of the Louisville native. “He has a hurt hand right now, but I will take him. I have been lucky to have him. A guy like that that wants to work and get better.”
Hatcher did not tell Brumbaugh — or anyone else — when he broke his hand during an earlier game until the game was over. Since then he has played with a cast on his hand.
“It told me a lot about him when he didn’t tell us he broke his hand. He realized other guys were down and raised his level of play and tried to get in there and do it,” Brumbaugh said. “He broke his hand in the first half of the game and kept playing. Not many guys would or could do that.”
“Back in the day, probably that is what I would have done. When you have your team out there and you don’t want to let those guys down and give everything you have got, you play. That’s the way it is in the SEC. Defensive linemen have to bang every single snap, and we know that. That’s why he understood that and said just he was going to play.”
Brumbaugh knows it is rare for a true freshman to have the success on the defensive front that Hatcher has had.
“You are 15 inches apart from a guy and they are 300-pound guys coming off the ball fast and physical. The more that you understand that from a technical standpoint and if you get your technique and footwork right, it will let you have more success in this league as a young guy,” Brumbaugh said.
“But it is different. The physicality is different. The footwork of offensive linemen is different. Those offensive linemen are athletic and you have to be ready immediately. It’s not an easy transition from high school.”