(Editor’s note: MTN Sports began recognizing some of the best football players in Montana history on July 2 with the launch of the #MTTop40. The series started with defensive backs and will run eight weeks, featuring one position each week, concluding with quarterbacks the week of Aug. 20-24 to coincide with Montana’s high school football season opener.)
No. 1 defensive back – Tim Hauck, Big Timber
Dimunitive in stature, Tim Hauck didn’t immediately get an opportunity to play football at the University of Montana. But when he did, he made an immediate impact, vaulted his way into the record books and ultimately embarked on one of the most noteworthy NFL careers in Montana history.
Tim Hauck stat sheet
After an all-state career at Big Timber, Hauck is arguably the greatest safety every to play at the University of Montana. After spending one season at Pacific University in Oregon, Hauck walked on with the Grizzlies in 1987 and ultimately put together two of the finest seasons in program history. He was a two-time all-American, earning the distinction in 1988 and 1989, and has his name littered across the Grizzly record books. He has the program’s single-game tackles record (25 against Fresno State in 1989) and holds both the single-season and career records for blocked point-after attempts. He blocked four PATs in the 1988 season alone and finished his career with seven PAT blocks and nine total blocked kicks. Hauck’s 15 career interceptions and 305 career tackles rank third and eighth in program history, respectively. Hauck recorded 129 tackles during the 1989 season, which is the second most in a single season in UM history.
At 5-foot-10, Hauck wasn’t blessed with great size, but he got an NFL opportunity in 1990 when he signed with the New England Patriots. He parlayed that into a 13-year playing career with seven teams – the Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Hauck appeared in 183 career games with the 1999 season with the Eagles being his most impactful. He started 15 games that season, totaling 60 tackles and 25 assists. He also caught his only career interception that season and forced and recovered one fumble. In total, Hauck recorded 236 tackles (68 assists) and six fumble recoveries during his NFL career.
Upon the conclusion of his playing career, Hauck entered the coaching ranks. He spent four seasons coaching defensive backs at Montana and one year at UCLA before moving into the NFL coaching fraternity. Hauck coached with the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns, and then moved back to college where he joined brother Bobby at UNLV for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Tim Hauck started coaching the Eagles’ safeties in 2016, helping the team to a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
… on Hauck:
Former Montana safety Colt Anderson: “(Tim Hauck) was a guy that was my mentor. He wasn’t the biggest guy, just like me, but he taught me the importance just of having a good work ethic, a positive attitude, and that if you just dedicate yourself to the sport and to the weight room, anything is possible, so it was great having him there.
“I owe everything to Tim Hauck. If it wasn’t for him, I definitely would not be where I’m at today. He saw my strengths, he coached my weaknesses, he was able to get me on the field, put me in good positions to make plays. Like I said, I owe everything to Tim. He’s my mentor, he’s a guy I know I can call and he’s going to answer right away. Still to this day we talk ball, and he’s one of my good friends.
“Tim Hauck had us work extremely hard. We worked on tackles day in, day out. When it came game time, it was just second nature and we were just playing with our instincts. I didn’t think about the way I was going to hit a guy, I didn’t think about angles, I just reacted. I think that’s what helped me to get where I’m at.”
Former Montana teammate Tony Arntson: “I can remember, and all of our friends can remember, when he came to the University of Montana, the first day he was on the field, he walked out there and he was puny. I mean, his pads hung off his shoulders and every one of us, we’re kind of giggling and wondering, ‘What in the world is this that they just brought out here?’ It took about four or five practices to know why he was out there. He would hit you. He was a physical player and if you want to talk about relentless, that’s a word I like to throw around, but he was relentless and a hard trainer. That kid worked so hard and he was a fierce, fierce player in a very undersized body, for sure.
“Back when he was playing, that’s when you would see a lot of guard- and tackle-pull stuff, there was a lot of pull on the perimeter, and he had kind of patented this little move where he would come down and saw those big 285-pound guys off, and he would saw them right below the kneecaps and then pop up. He would wipe them out and then pop up to make a play on a running back at the same time. I think that was one of the things that really made him start to stand out. I can remember a few big hits during games, but that was the one thing, the way he would come up and play the run game, and it was, it was fearless. It was complete fearlessness. And how he stayed healthy, how healthy he stayed throughout his career. He probably doesn’t feel that way now, but it always amazed me because he took on everybody, it didn’t matter, 220- or 240-pound running backs, or 270- or 280-pound offensive lineman. It didn’t matter to him, he found a way to beat you.”