PROVO — A year ago on Senior Day, BYU’s Eathyn Manumaleuna and Mike Hague, who had seen their respective senior seasons — and perhaps collegiate careers — cut short by injuries, were hopeful they would be given one more year of eligibility.
They sat on the sidelines and watched their fellow seniors be honored before a 52-13 win over Idaho.
As it turned out, both players were granted a medical redshirt year by the NCAA during the offseason, making it possible for a senior year do-over.
When BYU hosts Idaho State Saturday (1 p.m., MST, BYUtv), Hague, Manumaleuna and 20 other seniors will play their final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. And following the game, they’ll receive the traditional Senior Blankets.
It’s been a long time coming.
“It’s been long enough. It’s about time my senior night comes up,” said Hague, who arrived on campus as a freshman way back in 2006 and has dealt with a variety of injuries during his career. “I’ve been around a long time. I think it’s time for it to come to an end. That’s my feeling. But I’m glad I have one more opportunity here at LaVell (Edwards Stadium) to play one more game with the seniors and with this team.”
Manumaleuna was a freshman in 2007. The defensive lineman made one of the most unforgettable plays in BYU bowl history on the final play of his freshman season in the Las Vegas Bowl when he blocked a last-second field goal to seal a BYU victory over UCLA.
Then, after returning home from a mission, Manumaleuna picked up right where he left off. In his first game back, he played a big role in a 23-17 win over Washington, the 2010 season-opener.
Huskies quarterback Jake Locker was driving his team for the potential game-winning touchdown. Washington had the ball at the BYU 27-yard line, where Locker faced fourth-and-7 with about two minutes remaining.
On that play, the Cougars dropped eight defenders into coverage and rushed three for the first time that night. One of those rushers was Manumaleuna, who knocked down Locker’s fourth-down pass to preserve the Cougar victory.
“It hit my helmet,” Manumaleuna said afterward with a smile.
Last season at Boise State, Manumaleuna suffered a season-ending patella injury. While he and BYU coaches and officials were optimistic that he would be granted one more season, the NCAA didn’t make a ruling until mid-June.
Manumaleuna has savored every moment this season. “This year, all the games have been memorable,” he said. “Just coming back for another year was a blessing.”
When asked about his most memorable play at Edwards Stadium, Hague points to the one that people bring up with him — an 87-yard touchdown run against UNLV as a freshman in 2006. It was part of a 21-carry, 156-yard performance. That touchdown is the only one of his Cougar career.
“Everyone reminds me of that run,” said Hague, who switched from running back to defensive back in 2011. “You forget once upon a time I played on offense.”
What has it been like playing all these years at Edwards Stadium?
“It’s amazing,” Hague said. “You come to game when you’re 8, 9, 10 years old and it’s a totally different thing. It’s a special atmosphere. I’ve played a lot of places with how long I’ve been around. There’s no place like this, I don’t think. Madison (Wisconsin, last week) was close. That was cool. This is a great place to play.”
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company