FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A former resident of Little Rock, Arkansas, who grew up attending University of Arkansas football games, BYU defensive tackle Caden Haws has been understandably busy this week preparing to face the Razorbacks.

But he’s also found a little time to procure a few tickets from his teammates for the 5:30 p.m. MDT kickoff at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday, because even though the entire Haws family now lives in Utah, they will be traveling en masse to Fayetteville for the rematch of the Hogs’ 52-35 win over the Cougars last year.

“It is cool to get to go play in the stadium that you went to as a kid. I don’t have any buddies on the team any more. They all graduated last year. But thanks to a (two-year church) mission and stuff like that, I am kinda old. I am excited to go back.” — BYU defensive tackle Caden Haws

“My mom told me to get as many (tickets) as I can,” Haws said. “I don’t have an exact number for you, but that is the goal.”

How did Haws end up in Arkansas, of all places?

After playing for the University of Utah and briefly in the NFL, Kurt Haws (Caden’s father) took a job in medical sales that took the family to the Natural State, as it is called. The family returned to its Utah roots to be closer to grandparents, who live in Ogden. That happened a few years ago after Caden, who prepped at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, signed with BYU and his sister enrolled at nearby Utah Valley University.

“I actually don’t have too much family down there (in Arkansas) any more,” Caden Haws said. “But I have plenty of friends still there that became family.”

And they all want tickets for the matchup of 2-0 teams eager to stay undefeated before conference play begins next week — Arkansas is at LSU for an SEC showdown and BYU is at Kansas for its inaugural Big 12 contest.

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“It is cool to get to go play in the stadium that you went to as a kid,” Haws said. “I don’t have any buddies on the team any more. They all graduated last year. But thanks to a (two-year church) mission and stuff like that, I am kinda old. I am excited to go back.”

Along with asking teammates for their tickets — players generally get between four to six tickets per game from the school they play for — Haws has been telling them what to expect Saturday at the 73,000-seat stadium.

“Everybody is a Hog fan in Arkansas, except for the small little groups in Jonesboro. There are a couple of people who are more A State (Arkansas State) fans than the Pigs, but I mean, it is just like here,” he said.

“Everybody in Utah County loves BYU. Everybody in Salt Lake loves Utah. There, the whole state loves the University of Arkansas. It is really similar.”

Haws said he idolized former Arkansas players such as Darren McFadden and Felix Jones when he lived in Little Rock. He also envied the way the community spent the entire weekend tailgating and preparing for the home games.

“The stadium is crazy. The environment is crazy,” he said. “I think we could learn a little tailgating from the folks down South. It is a whole day event. Everybody is set up the night before. So that’s something that is really cool.”

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Haws played center in high school and was recruited to BYU as an offensive lineman. He switched to the defensive side of the ball a few years ago and has been a valuable contributor for the Cougars and their run-stopping efforts.

Cougars on the air

BYU (2-0)
at Arkansas (2-0)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MDT
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM

“With the connection he has to the state of Arkansas, he is really fired up for it,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “He is doing really well for us. He has battled some injuries, but he is looking really really good right now and I like the way he is being physical at the line of scrimmage. It will be a good matchup with the Arkansas offensive line.”

Another BYU defensive lineman, edge rusher Tyler Batty, said Haws is one of the strongest players on the team.

“He’s tough. That is one thing that Caden embraces. That is something he wears on his shoulder. He is a tough, hard-nosed dude and it shows when he plays,” Batty said. 

Fans watch game between Arkansas and Southern Mississippi at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. | Danny Johnston, Associated Press
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