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BYU’s Caden Haws grew up in Arkansas. Here’s how he feels about facing his home state team

Son of former University of Utah tight end Kurt Haws didn’t get a scholarship offer from Utes or Hogs, but he’s ‘not bitter’ because he loves playing for BYU

SHARE BYU’s Caden Haws grew up in Arkansas. Here’s how he feels about facing his home state team
BYU defensive lineman Caden Haws celebrates a sack during a 2022 game against Baylor at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

BYU defensive lineman Caden Haws celebrates a sack during a game against Baylor at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. Haws grew up in Arkansas, Saturday’s opponent.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Of all the matchups on this weekend’s college football docket, the Arkansas-at-BYU game sticks out as perhaps the most unusual.

Southeastern Conference teams rarely travel this far west, and especially not to Provo, home of LaVell Edwards Stadium. It is the first-ever meeting between the Cougars and the Razorbacks. BYU will play in Fayetteville, Arkansas, next year — on Sept. 16, 2023.

“I love the state of Arkansas. I loved growing up there. I wish I could go back more often. … So I’m definitely not bitter.” — BYU defensive lineman Caden Haws

These schools don’t exactly recruit against each other, but there is a player, a starter, on BYU’s roster who actually grew up in Arkansas, believe it or not.

That would be fourth-year sophomore Caden Haws, a nose guard who grew up in Little Rock, played for Pulaski Academy from 2013-15, and joined BYU in 2019 after serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in — wait for it — St. George, Utah.

Speaking to reporters via Zoom on Monday, Haws said he was “way excited” when the BYU-Arkansas series was announced on Nov. 1, 2018.

“I still have a couple of friends on the team from high school, (offensive lineman) Luke Jones and (tight end) Hudson Henry,” Haws said. “So it will be cool to see them. … It is a cool opportunity, especially to have them come to Provo. So we’re excited.”

Aside from punter Max Fletcher, who is from Australia, the Hogs don’t have a player from west of Nebraska on their roster. It will be an interesting clash of cultures at 1:30 p.m. MDT Saturday.

“It will be huge to be able to have them at home,” said Haws, the son of former University of Utah tight end Kurt Haws, who settled down in Arkansas as a medical sales rep after a brief stint in the NFL, having been taken in the fourth round of the 1994 NFL draft by Washington.

“I know Cougar Nation has showed out for us every home game this year. … The atmosphere at LaVell Edwards is unmatched, so having an SEC team come out, especially from my home state of Arkansas, it is a great opportunity.”

Haws’ parents moved to Utah a few years ago to be closer to his mother’s ailing mother.

Haws had offers from BYU, Army, Navy and Air Force out of high school, and a preferred walk-on offer from Utah, but nothing from Arkansas — where now head coach Sam Pittman was an offensive line coach at the time.

“When BYU offered, I took my time a little bit to commit, but after the coaching change happened and Kalani (Sitake) became the head coach, and I took my official (visit) out here, after talking with everybody and being out here and experiencing the atmosphere, it became pretty clear this is where I was supposed to be,” he said. “It just felt like home.”

Haws moved from offensive line to defensive line a few years ago, and is happy he did. Sitake is also pleased.

“We just recognized his strength and his athleticism for a big guy being able to play the D-line for us. He has done an amazing job for us. He is just a force up front,” Sitake said. “He is really excited about this game. He has been talking about it. He is really proud to be from the state of Arkansas and so he’s looking forward to this matchup.”

Haws said it is “not a big deal” that he didn’t get a scholarship offer from Arkansas and has a lot of respect for Pittman and his staff.

“I love the state of Arkansas. I loved growing up there. I wish I could go back more often,” he said. “… So I’m definitely not bitter. This is where I was supposed to end up. It has worked out great. I met my wife (Anna) out here. It has worked out how it was supposed to, so no, not bitter at all.”


Cougars on the air

Arkansas (3-3)

at No. 16 BYU (4-2)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MDT

LaVell Edwards Stadium

Provo, Utah

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL NewsRadio 102.7 FM/1160 AM