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Matt Hasbrook: Walk-on lineman transfered to ND for its academics

Matt Puglisi | Friday, November 12, 2004

The future rarely unfolds as planned.

Just ask fifth-year senior defensive tackle Matt Hasbrook.

A nine-time wrestling All-American fresh off an undefeated (49-0) senior year that saw the Indiana-polis, Ind. native take home the state title in the 215-pound weight class, Hasbrook was rewarded with a wrestling scholarship by Michigan State and never looked back – for a couple years, that is.

After being red-shirted as a freshman wrestler, Hasbrook traded in his headgear for a helmet and tried his hand on the gridiron.

While the Cathedral High School grad saw action in four games his junior year and was named an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Hasbrook ultimately decided that Michigan State wasn’t quite the fit he had expected and traded in his Spartan green and white for Notre Dame blue and gold.

In the end, Hasbrook’s decision to leave Michigan State was rooted in a number of factors.

“There was a multitude of things [that went into my decision to transfer],” Hasbrook said. “Between [Bobby Williams] getting fired at MSU and the team was kind of in shambles, and I had dropped my wrestling scholarship to play football – I was already paying out-of-state tuition.

“Coach Willingham had just had a great season at 10-3 so I thought why not come to the best football program with the best academics in the country. I wanted to get a better education.”

Per NCAA rules, Hasbrook was forced to sit out the 2003 season, leaving him in a tough position to not only earn a spot on the roster, but also a starting job.

“I was on the travel team [at MSU], and then I came here and it was a pretty humbling experience because I had to walk on,” Hasbrook said. “I think if I look back I probably would have applied to come here right off the bat, because it’s so hard to earn a starting job as a walk-on in just one year.”

Equipped with the unique experience of having attended two major universities in the past three years, Hasbrook has little trouble identifying the factors that separate Michigan State from Notre Dame.

“It’s night and day,” Hasbrook said. “There are 50,000 wild people at Michigan State and there are parties all the time and it seems like school’s just a secondary option to why you’re there – it’s pretty much a party school.

“At Notre Dame everyone’s more focused on academics, and the people are a lot closer -there’s a lot more school spirit and it’s just a better atmosphere at Notre Dame.”

While academics and atmosphere certainly contribute to an individual’s university experience, of predominate importance are the fostered friendships.

“It’s been incredible,” Hasbrook said. “I’ve made so many close friendships with the other fifth-year seniors. I live with Greg Pauly and Billy Palmer and we have a really close relationship with Mike Goolsby, Jared Clark and Kyle Budinscak-we’re all really tight. I’m so happy I made the switch because of the friendships I’ve made.”

With the senior’s collegiate football careers quickly drawing to a close, Hasbrook looks forward to one day being his own boss.

“I’d like to run my own business, but first start off in the financial sector or sales to earn a little capital,” Hasbrook said. “Eventually I would definitely like to own my own company.”

While Hasbrook’s plans appear firmly in place, if his collegiate experience is any indication, there’s no telling where the talented student-athlete may end up.