PROVO — Mike Hague is making a name for himself in BYU's spring football camp and it's not all about the hits he's delivering in his job as a safety.
You see, Hague has turned a lot of heads by his looks and deeds.
No, he doesn't have a Mohawk haircut. He isn't donning some new fashion designer clothes from Paris or Turkey. He doesn't wear nifty rattlesnake skin cowboy boots and he hasn't dyed his hair black or bleached it blond or put a bone through his nose.
Hague has gone from a portly fullback to a sledgehammer hitter and tackler.
Where his greatest fame of the past year was creating concussions in fall camp and hauling in an occasional pass reception out of the backfield, he is now dropping back in coverage and launching himself into gaps for run support.
He's as agile as a cat. His reaction time is instant. He covers space and runs like a deer while maintaining the mindset that he is a hammer.
But as impressive as all the new action is, that isn't totally it. The thing about Hague that is turning heads is his massive weight loss over the past seven months.
Hague has always looked a little bowling ball-like as a hard-running Utah 5A Player of the Year at Brighton and his freshman year at BYU before his LDS mission to Knoxville, Tenn.
No more. Hague is sleek and trim. Last August, Hague weighed 230 pounds. He has now lost 45 pounds and tips the scales from 178 to 185. He doesn't like the 170s because he's too light to administer pain. So if he gets a little feathery, he'll swallow a candy bar.
Hague rushed for 2,001 yards and 28 TDS at Brighton High. That's quite an accomplishment. But he also had 53 tackles and 5 interceptions as a defensive back. He was the ultimate utility player.
Witnesses of last fall's practices will never forget Hague putting down his shoulders as a ball carrier and mowing over tacklers. His victims tried to get up on wobbly legs and act as if nothing had hit them. Hague even suffered a concussion instigating such collisions.
Maybe that is what caught the eye of head coach Bronco Mendenhall back in August. He was playing behind Bryan Karyia and Zed Mendenhall and all that energy and fearlessness seemed wasted.
When Mendenhall took over the reins as defensive coordinator last October, he no doubt started looking for players he wanted on his side of the line.
During this winter's conditioning drills, Mendenhall came up to Hague, a player he noted was making a complete transition of his body, and asked him to play safety.
"It was a blessing," said Hague.
This week, Mendenhall praised Hague for his work ethic and loss of poundage. After Friday's scrimmage, Mendenhall said: "It's the first time we've got a chance to really see him finish a few plays. He's been playing that spot and even though we've been doing live work, he hasn't had many plays make it to him. So that was a plus to be able to see him tackle. I was impressed."
Hague explains his triumph over weight, a challenge the majority of Americans battle every day.
"First week of fall camp I was playing fullback and I wasn't happy playing at the weight I was playing at and decided to go on a diet. I started eating right and lost about 45 pounds."
"I really don't know why I was losing the weight. I just felt like I needed to and actually, its worked out well for me."
The Hague Diet. Remember, extensive workout, both cardio and weight lifting is a given, but this is the fork and spoon to mouth part of it.
"One of the things I focus on is complex carbs in the morning, things like oatmeal to kick off my metabolism. I had a bad habit of eating about 11 in the morning. I started eating as early in the morning as I could.
"I cut out all fast foods, including Subway (sandwiches), that kind of stuff. I cut out everything but chicken, vegetables and salad. About the last seven or eight months about 95 percent of what I've eaten for lunch and dinner was veggies, chicken and salad.
"At first it was hard because of energy, but my body is used to it now and my friends are starting to tease me because I've started to cheat a little bit on my diet and have a candy bar every once in a while."
He cut out all soda pop. "I used to drink five or six Diet Cokes a day."
He eats multigrain bread for energy and sometimes substitutes an apple for a meal. "I have to get my sugars from somewhere and that comes from apples or bananas. I could eat more fruit and branch out a little, but I haven't eaten grapes or other fruits all that much."
Sometimes Hague scrambles an egg (whites, no yolk) in the microwave and places it on multigrain bread with peanut butter for breakfast. He uses his George Foreman Grill two or three times a day with a breast and a half of chicken with teriyaki sauce.
He'll cut up the chicken and put it on a salad. He occasionally eats rice but makes sure it is a special low sugar rice from South America. He tries to get as much fiber in his body as possible and apples are his main source.
As a member of the football team, he has a big workout but he adds a little more cardio work on his own.
Before, when he was 230, he struggled to breathe during workouts. Now, he enjoys it and looks forward to it.
"I'm at the point where if I do too much cardio, I get too light," he said.
He's Rocky Balboa with a hoodie, running and running and running.
"I feel fantastic. I feel better than I have my whole life. BYU's tough winter conditioning? I won't say it is a breeze because they'll probably work me harder next time. But this winter I came to love it because of the shape I was in, doing it every day. I run harder, longer and where I used to feel sick the day after, I don't feel that way any more. My body recovers quicker."
Before he goes to bed, Hague has his own core workout that consists of sit-ups and push-ups.
"I love it, it's been a godsend to me. It's what I needed," said Hague.