LEWISTON – This game is personal for Hayden and Hogan Hatten.
Idaho plays Northern Arizona on Saturday in Flagstaff, Arizona, almost 150 miles from the Hattens’ hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Lumberjacks were ranked high on the twins’ college wish list when they came out of Saguaro High School, going on four visits to the school together.
After the visits, Northern Arizona never reached out with an offer, leaving a sour taste in their mouths. Now, every time the Vandals face the Lumberjacks, the pair do their best to show NAU what it missed out on.
Hogan, a junior linebacker, notched a career-best 14 tackles in an April 17, 2021, game against the Lumberjacks. Hayden’s marquee moment came during Idaho’s final game of 2019, when the sophomore wide receiver had five catches for 47 yards and two scores against NAU.
“There’s no one in the country I’d rather beat,” Hayden Hatten said. “It’s the only school in the country that frustrates me. It’s absolutely personal.”
After being snubbed by the Lumberjacks, the twins knew they had to pick a school. After much thought and consideration, the Hattens settled on Ivy League school Brown.
The process didn’t get any easier after the Bears let go of longtime coach Phil Estes.
“Nothing against the coaching staff now, (but) it was just a different experience when we went over there,” Hayden Hatten said. “We just decided for our (personalities) that an Ivy League school wasn’t for us.”
Despite never playing a game nor taking a class at the Rhode Island school, the prestige of Brown wasn’t lost on the duo.
“It was a special opportunity to have a chance to go to a school where the acceptance rate is less than 8%,” Hogan Hatten said. “We’re sitting in a room with 100 kids (and) they said ... (only eight of you will only get in) and we’re looking at each other like well we’re already in.”
The pair continued looking for a school to play at, ultimately deciding to visit Idaho.
From the moment they stepped onto campus, they were immediately drawn to the university’s atmosphere.
During their visit, Hayden’s teammate and best friend, Dalton Cash, hosted the twins, and he made them feel right at home.
“It’s hard not to fall love with the place,” Hogan Hatten said. “It’s special to find a place where everything revolves around the school. We come from a big town in Arizona, and you’ll never see anyone walking around wearing Arizona State stuff. But when you walk around here, it’s a big deal. It’s going to be a big thing that I’ll miss when I leave.”
Home life and family are big virtues for the two. The family-like atmosphere of the Vandals football team was a great fit, as well as an opportunity to play Division I football together on a full scholarship, a promise they made to their parents.
“It’s the only thing that our parents asked us to do,” Hogan Hatten said. “They come to every game and they love coming to watch us. My dad told me very clearly that it’s going to be tough for me to be at two different places on the same Saturday.”