By Jim Benton for www.armedforcesbowl.com
Fort Worth, Texas, December 27, 2010 – Jared Hassin claims he has a calm personality but don’t try to tell that to Army opponents who try to tackle the Black Knights’ sophomore fullback.
Hassin leads Army in rushing this season with 931 yards and averages 5.4 yards per carry as the first option in the Black Knights’ triple option offense.
"I like to think that I’m not one of the stereotypical football players, listening to heavy mental in the locker room before the game," Hassin said Monday after Army’s practice in preparation for Thursday’s Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.
"I’m a relatively calm person and I’ve played that way for a while," he continued. "I try to remain as relaxed as I can before a football game. When I came into the college football environment with thousands of fans and TV cameras, having a background playing as relaxing as I always had really helped me adjust."
Hassin, whose father (Donald) and sister (Kelsey) are West Point graduates, started his career as a tailback at the Air Force Academy but transferred to Army after completing basic training in 2008.
He sat out last season due to NCAA transfer guidelines and this campaign has developed into a prototypical triple option fullback.
"This was the first time I’ve ever had the chance to get my hands on the football," said the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Hassin. "I played tailback all through high school (at Kettle Moraine in Delafield, Wis.) and at Air Force. When I came in here it was an interesting change for me.
"I didn’t come into the season with any expectations in terms of numbers and things like that. I was just thinking about how much I could help the team and allow the offense to produce yards. For me, there were some games when I was successful and able to help the team move the ball and put up points. There were games when I didn’t do my job as well as I think I should have."
Army coach Rich Ellerson, however, has been pleased with Hassin’s progression.
"For a guy that hadn’t played football for a couple of years, much less be the fullback in this style of play, the season he’s had is really remarkable," Ellerson said. "The fact that he’s progressed as quickly and been as effective as early as he’s been is really good news.
"I was trying to moderate expectations because we were all really excited about this guy. The truth is he has progressed more quickly than we realistically thought he would."
Hassin hasn’t noticed much difference between life at West point versus the environment at the Air Force Academy.
"There’s no real significant difference," he said. "Everybody out there (Air Force) goes to school every day too and plebe life there isn’t any better than plebe life there. I wasn’t really out there long enough to experience a full year of the Air Force Academy in terms of school life."
TAKING A BIG STEP – Army (6-6) needs a win over SMU (7-6) to avoid its 17th losing season in the past 20 years. The Black Knights were 5-5-1 in 1995.
"We sit at 6-6, so winning football is still up in the air," Ellerson said. "We have a great opportunity and we’ve done some great things to get to this point. It’s been a mixed year with lots of ups and lots of downs as we’ve battled ourselves into this.
"As I say, it’s a turn in the road, a mile post, but it’s not the destination. The destination is to be consistently good and occasionally great. We have an opportunity to take a giant step in that direction on Thursday."