Logan • It was only after he came to Logan when Eric Schultz was able to fully appreciate the Utah State-BYU rivalry. But having grown up in small-town Connell, Wash., his dislike for BYU stems back much further.
"Everyone gets amped for this game and I do too," the Aggies' right tackle said Monday. "Even being from Washington, I grew up in a fairly Mormon community and everyone seemed to like BYU. I never have liked BYU, so it's big for me."
But one of Schultz's high school football and basketball teammates did like BYU enough to go play there: Spencer Hadley.
The Cougars' linebacker has gained noteriety for his recent run afoul of BYU's honor code, but Schultz called him a good player and "a good friend" on Monday. Hadley won't be able to play on Friday when the Aggies and the Cougars face off in Logan, and Schultz acknowledged that he felt bad for him.
"I played with him, we were on the same team [in high school], and he's been a good friend of mine," Schultz said. "I've called him recently so we've talked a little bit. He's a good kid, I feel bad for what happened, but you live with those rules when you go there, that's the deal."
The two share a lot of common roots and experiences. They grew up in the same area, played for the Connell Eagles and led them to the finals during their senior year. Hadley and Schultz were two-way all-state honorees, but also had success in basketball and track. Both elected to serve LDS Church Missions after high school, but Schultz went to Alabama and Hadley went to California, and that was where their paths parted.
Schultz became one of Utah State's most valuable linemen, an All-WAC first-teamer last season. Hadley took on a role as a run stuffing outside linebacker who had 55 tackles last year, and he had one of his biggest games in a 6-3 win over the Aggies with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Although both ended up in Utah, the 125 miles between Utah State and BYU lies over a canyon-like schism between the two fanbases. Still, Schultz said he's taken time to talk to Hadley whenever the two teams square off.
Although Schultz said he's sympathetic to his high school teammate's plight, as far as the game goes, he'll be glad not to be staring at Hadley from across the line of scrimmage this Friday.
"He's a good player. He's a really good player," Schultz said. "That's going to hurt BYU the next couple weeks."
As long as you're reading this Tuesday morning, I thought I'd include a few Aggie-related links:
• Kyler Fackrell was named the College Sports Madness Mountain West Defender of the Week. He had 11 tackles and a sack.
• Nick Diaz named one of the Lou Groza Award's weekly "three stars" for kicking four field goals and getting 16 points overall last week.
• Chuckie Keeton named an Earl Campbell Tyler Rose weekly honorable mention. Keeton took top honors in the award, which honors outstanding Texas natives, a few weeks ago.
• As long as you're reading about Eric Schultz and Spencer Hadley, thought I'd share some stories I ran across while looking up their history. A Seattle Times profile on Hadley during his senior year at Connell, and a Tri-City Herald feature on Schultz from last season that reflected back on his high school days.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon