#MTTop40: Speed, toughness made ‘Iron Tumbleweed’ Don Hass one of Montana State’s greats

Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 16, 2018

(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. We’ve wrapped up the defense, also profiling the defensive linemen and linebackers, and started the offense with the offensive linemen, tight ends and wide receivers. This week, we focus on the running backs.)

Defensive backs: No. 5 – Shann Schillinger, Baker; No. 4 – Greg Carothers, Helena Capital; No. 3 – Kane Ioane, Billings Skyview; No. 2 – Colt Anderson, Butte; No. 1 – Tim Hauck, Big Timber.

Defensive linemen: No. 5 – Kroy Biermann, Hardin; No. 4 – Pete Lazetich, Billings Senior; No. 3 – Mitch Donahue, Billings West; No. 2 – Dwan Edwards, Columbus; No. 1 – Mike Tilleman, Chinook.

Linebackers: No. 5 – Pat Taylor, Great Falls CMR; No. 4 – Mark Fellows, Choteau; No. 3 – Jason Crebo, Helena Capital; No. 2 – Jim Kalafat, Great Falls CMR; No. 1 – Corey Widmer, Bozeman.

Offensive lineman: No. 5 – Barry Darrow, Great Falls CMR; No. 4 – Mike Person, Glendive; No. 3 – Sonny Holland, Butte; No. 2 – Kirk Scrafford, Billings West; No. 1 – Pat Donovan, Helena High.

Tight ends: No. 5 – Will Dissly, Bozeman; No. 4 – Joe Bignell, Deer Lodge; No. 3 – Brian Salonen, Great Falls High; No. 2 – Mark Gilman, Kalispell Flathead; No. 1 – Casey Fitzsimmons, Chester.

Wide receivers: No. 5 – Gabe Sulser, Billings Senior; No. 4 – Mark Gallik, Stevensville; No. 3 – Matt Miller, Helena Capital; No. 2 – Marc Mariani, Havre; No. 1 – Sam McCullum, Kalispell Flathead.

Running backs: No. 5 — Steve Kracher, Columbia Falls; No. 4 — Kerry Porter, Great Falls High; No. 3 — Lex Hilliard, Kalispell Flathead.

No. 2 running back — Don Hass, Glendive

Despite playing more than 50 years ago, Don Hass, known as the “Iron Tumbleweed,” has his name planted firmly in the Montana State record books after he became one of the greatest Bobcats ever.

Don Hass stat sheet

Hass, a Glendive native, represented the East in the 1964 Montana East-West Shrine Game, a 13-6 win for the West. It was at Montana State where his career really took off, though.

Hass played for the Bobcats from 1965-67, putting together two of the best single seasons in program history. He played sparingly in 1965, carrying the ball just 67 times, but he became MSU’s feature back in the 1966 season. Hass rushed for 1,460 yards, the second-best single-season mark in program history, and a single-season MSU-record 20 touchdowns on his way to all-American honors. He was again an all-American in 1967, rushing 1,245 yards and eight touchdowns. He had the Bobcats’ best single-game performance that season, rushing for 298 yards against Weber State. In his career, Hass totaled 2,954 yards, the fourth-most all-time at MSU, and 29 touchdowns, tied for second. Hass, who averaged 101.5 rushing yards per game over his entire career, is the only player in MSU history to average more than 95 yards per game and is one of just five players to rush for at least four touchdowns in a game and one of four players to rush for five. He and Cody Kirk are the only players on the list twice. Hass, who played in the 1967 East-West Game in San Francisco, is one of just four Bobcats to have his jersey retired. His combination of speed, toughness and durability earned Hass the nickname “The Iron Tumbleweed.”

Hass signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 1967, but he got cut before ever playing an NFL game.

… on Hass:

Former Montana State football coach Sonny Holland: “I certainly was around to observe his talents. He carried the ball innumerable times, every game out, and therefore had a great record as far as individual yards gained. He was a hard worker from eastern Montana, a kid that came from the program there that counted on him to win for him, and he did. He came to Montana State and did the same thing. He was just one of those kids that would bring everything he had to the game, he never left anything off the field. He just always gave every ounce of strength that he had to victory.

“Well, he never went backwards. He never went backwards. When he got hit, he always managed to find a way to wriggle forward and get an extra half a yard out of it. I don’t know whose style that is, but it was certainly his.

“No question about it. No question. He would have made everybody’s roster (in today’s game of football). He was one of those kids that would find a place to play.”

Former Montana State receiver Dan Davies: “Interesting story about Don Hass, he’s older than I am, as well. I have three older brothers, and they all came to school at Montana State at one point or another. I know when I was younger, my folks, we used to come down – and my folks are both alumni of Montana State, as well – come down for Homecoming and that type of deal. We’d watch the Bobcats play at Gatton Field, and I remember watching Don Hass. Don Hass came here from Glendive. The story that Sonny Holland or Tom Perrick, I can’t remember which one, told me that he came here and was not very happy. I think he actually went home, and they convinced him to come back. It was a weekend or something, but he came back. He’s one of the great running backs that we’ve had at Montana State, and one of the nicest guys I’ve met, too, as a Bobcat alumni. … But he’d come back and talk to the team. Very meaningful stuff when he came back and talked, very humble. Always gave the credit to the offensive linemen, which guys do. He was special. The Iron Tumbleweed.

“No doubt about it, powerful guy. Not blazing speed, but certainly fast enough to make some things happen. But he would just assume, I think, run over you as go around you. He had the ability to both.”