When I arrived in Corvallis my freshman year, I didn't go to church the first few months. I had grown up in a Christian household, but when I got to college I just didn't know where to go or who to hang out with, and it wasn't until I needed a place to live for the next year that I started to regain my Christian foundation.


People were starting to clique up on the team, and as I began to look for a place to stay, I ended up stumbling into a house with four other guys on the team who also procrastinated on their living circumstances . They were people I hadn't known really well at that point, but they ended up being four guys who were strong in their faith, and helped to start a small Christian study group on the team. They ended up being the brothers that I never had and I really needed their help and God's presence in my life that year – my redshirt freshman season – because things were about to become really chaotic on the team.


As I've gotten older I've realized that God sometime uses your adversities to catapult you higher, but the way a catapult works, it has to bring you down before it can launch you forward.


The only thing was I didn't realize just how low God was going to bring the catapult of my football career before it turned around.


So, rewinding back to my redshirt football season, we were 2-1 on the year, and after our starting QB struggled in the next game against Arizona, I finally got the nod to be put in the game. It was now my time to shine....or so I thought, as we lost 44-7. That performance did not sit well with the coaching staff, because I didn't see the field the next week against Washington State. Then, in the following game against Colorado, I realized just how quickly my career had derailed off the tracks.


Not only did I not get the start, but neither did our previous starter. Our 3rd QB was the first one to see the field, but after some struggles, the coaching staff went back to my teammate who began the year as the starter. We ended up losing 17-14, which marked our fourth straight loss. We then lost our fifth game in a row against Utah, when I didn't play at all, but the low point for me might have been the next week.


We were at home in Reser Stadium, with our fans cheering us on. Unfortunately, with rain pouring down, the conditions were atrocious. So was our performance, including mine.



We walked off the field with a 41-0 loss. The last time Oregon State had been shut out at home, 18 years before, I was just a year old at that time.


Our implosion continued against Cal. We then lost our next game 52-7, which ran the losing streak to eight games, and then Oregon beat us 52-42 to send us into the offseason with nine consecutive losses.


Here's how bad things were that year...at one point we had seven quarterbacks competing for the starting spot. Seven. None of us took a firm hold of the position, and in practice you felt like you were getting one rep every 30 minutes. It can make you question if you really love football, but it can also make you question if you're even any good.


When a slump reaches nine straight games, you start to ask yourself: is this even a slump, or am I actually this bad at football?


But that's the devil trying to get you to believe in his lies.


Thanks to my roommates and the Christian study group on the team, I continued to try and do the right things on and off the field. I knew I was in the midst of the storm, but there had to be something after it. And there was, but I would have to go through one more treacherous season before that storm would pass.

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Thomas Hager