Kamikaze. Mad man. Monster.
The teammates of Texas Longhorns defensive end Breckyn Hager have plenty of nicknames for the maniacal, long-haired legacy, but the recruiting rankings confer another one, albeit one that is much more understated — underrated.
In a National Signing Day appearance on the Longhorn Network, host Lowell Galindo pointed to Hager’s lowly ranking in the 2015 signing class, asking the junior how he overcame his label as the No. 68 weak-side defensive end in the country.
After a rote answer about hard work and belief in himself, Hager happened to notice the presence of former Longhorns linebacker Cecil Cherry’s name on the list Galindo showed him of the recruiting rankings.
“I see Cecil Cherry ranked above me,” Hager said, breaking into laughter to the shared amusement of Emmanuel Acho and Ahmad Brooks.
Cherry, a member of the ill-fated Florida Five, infamously departed the program after several practices, transferring back home to the Sunshine State. But he’s since left the South Florida program, too, headed for a junior college.
A Texas legacy whose father Brit is the leading tackler in school history and a Longhorn legend, Hager fully appreciates the school’s tradition, which helps feed his unique passion for the game and his relentless attitude.
“Whenever I get out there, I just love it so much, especially being at Texas,” Hager said. “When I run through the tunnel, I just get teary-eyed and fiery — ready to go. And it’s a fun game to me. It really is.”
At times, it falls on the coaches or teammates to keep Hager in check, a difficult task given his willingness to abandon his containment in the name of making a play.
The Westlake product quickly made his presence felt at Texas after arriving — former head coach Charlie Strong mentioned him after his first fall practice, in large part because the always-enthusiastic Hager had “leveled” a teammate.
With no pads on.
Strong loved it, Hager recounted.
Now he’ll have to catch the attention of the new coaching staff by proving that he can take care of his business on the field and off the field. And perhaps by taking another teammate to the ground before pads come on.
Don’t put it past him.
In order to make an impression, Hager plans on going 10 times harder, if that’s possible, in order to ensure that he’s a member of new head coach Tom Herman’s gold group.
Given Hager’s track record, that shouldn’t be difficult to accomplish — he only knows one way to go about football, and that seeps into other areas of his life as a student athlete.