(Editor’s note: story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA – When he first arrived at the University of Montana for the spring semester, there was some doubt as to whether or not Robby Hauck was going to have the chance to play for the Grizzlies this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Thanks to waivers from the NCAA and Big Sky Conference, Hauck was granted the opportunity to follow his dad – head coach Bobby Hauck – to Missoula and was cleared to play for the Grizzlies in 2018.
Now halfway through his freshman season, he has worked his way into a starting role at safety and has made an immediate impact for the Griz, becoming the second-leading tackler in the Big Sky after six games.
With an impressive start to his first year at UM, Hauck was named to the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award Watch List on Thursday; the award presented annually to the national Freshman Player of the Year.
“As his coach, Robby has been playing well for our defense, and it’s a good thing for our entire team when someone is recognized on the national level,” said Bobby Hauck. “As his dad, I’m proud of him and the player he is becoming.”
With three games where he tallied double-digit tackles and a career-high of 17 takedowns against Cal Poly, Robby Hauck has amassed a total of 59 tackles so far this season including 21 solo takedowns.
He is now the second-leading tackler on the team behind Dante Olson – who just happens to be the No. 1 tackler in the entire nation, at any level. Hauck is also the second-leading tackler (behind Olson) in the conference and the No. 22 tackler in the entire country, averaging 9.7 takedowns per game.
Following his career-high game at Cal Poly where he became the only freshman in FCS football to get in on 17 or more tackles this season, Hauck was given an honorable mention for the STATS FCS Freshman Player of the Week. Now he’s in the mix for Freshman of the Year honors.
Montana has produced several of the nation’s top freshman in recent years. Hauck is now the third Grizzly in as many seasons to be in the running for the Jerry Rice Award.
Receiver Jerry Louie-McGee finished seventh in Rice Award voting in 2016 after shattering the school record for receptions in a game against Cal Poly, and likely would have finished higher in the voting had he not missed three games to injury.
In 2017 quarterback Gresch Jensen finished third in the Rice Award voting after throwing for 2,531 yards and 20 touchdowns in 10 games his freshman season.
Hauck is one of three players in the Big Sky to be named to the Rice Award watch list this week. Running backs Josh Davis from Weber State and Ulonzo Gilliam of UC Davis were also added to the list.
Davis was named the STATS FCS National Freshman of the Week after rushing for 177 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-17 win at Cal Poly. He’s currently the No. 1 overall rusher in the Big Sky, averaging 137.8 yards per game.
Gilliam was also named STATS FCS National Freshman of the Week following the Aggies’ week one 44-38 win over San Jose State where he rushed for 132 yards. He is now the league leader in scoring by touchdown with eight scores on the season.
Hauck is one of only three freshmen among the Nation’s top-25 tacklers this week. Other top freshman tacklers around the nation include Jarrett Nagy, Presbyterian, LB (9.8 TPG) and Chris Kolarevic, UNI, LB (10.8 TPG).
It’s likely of no surprise to long-time Griz fans to see Hauck among the nation’s top tacklers. After all, it runs in the family.
Robby’s uncle Tim Hauck remains UM’s second all-time leading tackler in a single season (tied with Colt Anderson) with 129 takedowns in 1989.
Tim Hauck, now a Super Bowl winning coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, is also UM’ eighth-leading tackler in total takedowns with 305 during his career from 1987-89.