By Steve Habel, Senior Contributing Writer
AUSTIN, Texas — Twenty-six seniors each will play his last game for Texas at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Saturday when the 13th-ranked Longhorns battle No. 18 Iowa State to stay alive in the race for a spot in the Big 12 championship game.
A chance to play for — and win — the league championship carries a little more weight for one of those seniors, Texas defensive end Breckyn Hager, who has famously said he will not cut his long blonde hair until the Longhorns win the Big 12 title.
“I’m going to let everyone get a piece because it’s going to be a story,” Hager said, "and then I’m going to put it all in a bag, and I’m going to donate to Locks of Love.”
With the 11th game of his final season on the 40 Acres now at hand (and his hair grown well past his shoulders where it falls in a mane out of the back of his helmet), this Senior Night will mean a little more to Hager that some of the other players on the team ... follicly speaking, of course.
“Every time I hear the UT Tower ding, I know my time’s running out,” Hager said. “So I’ve got to bring it here, I’ve got to bring it with everything I’ve got, whether that’s in the weight room, practice, film room. I don’t care what it all is. I’m leaving it out there.”
There’s no one on the Texas roster quite as flamboyant as Hager, but he has produced his share of highlight-reel plays as well as bulletin-board quotes over the course of his career.
Hager showed his quirkiness after the Longhorns’ win over Oklahoma this season, when he came to the postgame press conference in his full uniform, except for a tan cowboy hat on his head rather than his helmet.
He then spent the better part of his 15 minutes with the media talking about how “God told (him) we were going to win this game.”
Hager also revealed that he believes that he’s a “young prophet” and that he’s a “working on a Nobel Peace Prize to prove God’s existence.” He added that he does things that most normal people don’t, and that he takes pride in that. “That’s why I’m so confident and my confidence can be linked to results,” he said.
Texas coach Tom Herman understands that Hager is different. “That is real,” Herman said. “That’s not an act. That’s not for show. That’s the way his circuits are wired.”
Hager’s persona and attitude epitomize the intense buy-in that has led to the Longhorns’ move back into the list of the nation’s top college football teams.
“Hager is a ball of energy,” Texas coach Tom Herman said Monday. “He is a guy that, if you want to look up the definition of passion for your university, passion for your team, and maybe more importantly, passion for your teammates and the people that surround him, you don't need to look any further than Breckyn Hager.”
Most people know something about Hager. He’s the son of former Texas All-America linebacker Britt Hager and, with his dad, is one of just three father-son duos to have both been captains for the Longhorns.
Britt, who left the 40 Acres as Texas’ all-time leading tackler, played like his pants were on fire, and the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree in the Hager family. Breckyn is outspoken, tough, intense and demanding of himself and his teammates, and has nothing but burnt-orange blood running through his veins.
Given that notion, as well as Hager’s lineage as a Longhorn, expect a big game from him on Senior Night, despite the fact that he won’t be playing at full speed as he continues to recover from dislocated radius he suffered early in the game against West Virginia two weeks ago.
There will be tears ... but there will be tackles, too. Hager will take both gladly, as long as they lead to a side-order of shears to cut his hair Dec. 1 in Arlington with a win in the Big 12 championship game.