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If Chase Haslett’s family name is any indication of what he brings to the football field, Indiana University of Pennsylvania could be in for a treat.
The son of IUP All-American and NFL Coach of the Year honoree Jim Haslett, Chase Haslett is set to transfer from the University of Illinois and jump right into the competition for the Crimson Hawks’ open quarterback position in 2014.
To his credit, he served as a backup for the Fighting Illini from 2012-13 after redshirting his freshman season, and the young signal-caller doesn’t want to be a star by association, but said he looks to build his own presence.
“Anybody who has a dad in the NFL or any other major sport will be recognized by their last name,” Haslett said. “People will be critical of things, but I just have to go out there and make a name for myself.”
A native of Clayton, Mo., Chase Haslett turned down a scholarship offer to play baseball coming out of high school, instead opting to stick to the gridiron. Three years later, he is finally expected to have the opportunity to showcase his skills at IUP, where he’ll have two seasons of eligbility.
With two-year starter alumnus Mike Box finished as a Crimson Hawk, Haslett’s only competitors for the role of starting quarterback appear to be Logan Weaver (redshirt sophomore, hospitality management) and Eddie Stockett (redshirt freshman, Eberly College of Business).
Weaver threw seven passes in relief last year, and while Stockett once had a verbal commitment to Akron as a noted recruit, he has yet to take a snap for IUP.
“Both Eddie and Logan are good quarterbacks, though,” Haslett said. “I’m hoping my age and knowledge can help take them to the next level.”
Haslett, who overcame an ankle injury to account for 1,451 passing yards and 12 touchdowns as a high school senior, once competed in ESPN’s EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp, partaking in drills alongside 2014 NFL Draft prospect Teddy Bridgewater.
As a high school prospect, Haslett reportedly also drew offers from Southern Illinois University and the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Illinois coaches appreciated his knowledge of the game, however, and he opted to join the Illini as a preferred walk-on during summer workouts. The school later gave him a scholarship to remain on the team.
Despite being stuck on the lower end of Illinois’ QB totem pole, Haslett said he is confident in his ability to take command of the Crimson Hawks offense, which helped drive the team to the NCAA Division II semifinals two seasons ago.
“My whole life, I’ve been around the game, so it comes naturally,” he said. “The past three years I have gone through three different offenses at Illinois, so learning won’t be difficult. Just like anything, it takes time and commitment if you want to succeed.”
Why did Haslett choose to come to IUP of all places to try to jumpstart his career?
The fact that his dad, Jim, took a path to the pros after his time in Indiana had an influence, but the eager quarterback was just as enthralled with the chance to play under head coach Curt Cignetti.
“What intrigued me the most was the coaching staff’s will to win,” he said. “Coach Cignetti is not going to settle for anything less than a championship, and that’s how it should be.
“He has put together a good team. Him and [offensive coordinator] Tyler Haines have done some great things in their coaching careers so far.”
Cignetti, who was the wide receivers coach at Alabama before taking over at IUP in 2011, has had success developing quarterbacks in the past.
In a seven-year stint at North Carolina State University, he was the quarterbacks coach for Philip Rivers, who went on to be the fourth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
With big-play man De’Antwan “The Rocket” Williams (senior, sociology) no longer in IUP’s backfield, Cignetti could also look to open up his game plan in some areas.
Returning regulars at wide receiver Drew Carswell (redshirt senior, criminology) and Sean McVay (redshirt junior, management) could make an increased focus on the passing attack even more possible – a focus that could very well benefit Haslett.
For Haslett, the opportunity to play at IUP gives him both a chance to grow as an athlete and improve the Hawks offense, but that doesn’t mean his journey will be without challenges.
“The transferring process has been pretty stressful,” Haslett said. “Being this next season is going to be my fourth playbook in four years, it all comes real easy, but I’m taking 19 hours right now to be able to graduate and start my masters at IUP, so trying to balance that and football is very time-consuming.”
Haslett has lived in New Orleans, Pittsburgh and St. Louis among other places, so it’s not like he isn’t accustomed to moving, either.
“Another factor that helped me make my decision is that my entire family is within a few hours,” he said. “They will be at a lot of the IUP games.”
The pressure to follow in the footsteps of his father could also linger, as the accomplishments of Haslett’s dad, Jim, are not to be overlooked.
A recognized linebacker and punter for IUP, Jim Haslett became the first player from the school to appear in the Blue-Gray All-Star Game and was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division II Player of the Year.
After his college career at IUP, he spent nine years in the NFL with the Bills and Jets, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1979.
He then kicked off a lengthy coaching career in 1988 at the University at Buffalo.
The Washington Redskins defensive coordinator since 2010, he’s had head coaching gigs with the Saints and Rams as well as the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League.
Embracing those challenges, though, Haslett is geared up for a high-potential run in the crimson and slate.
If his drive to succeed in a new environment comes to fruition, it might only be a matter of time until one Haslett joins the other at the top ranks of football.