Dec. 20, 2004
Providence, RI - Game tapes and stat sheets can give a good glimpse of a football player, but not always the complete picture. While anyone would be impressed with the rushing records and dazzling moves by Brown running back Nick Hartigan '06, there is more than meets the eye.
For all the outstanding performances Hartigan has displayed on Brown's football field, he has done the same in Brown's academic halls.
"He has dedicated himself to being the best in the classroom and the best on the field," said Head Coach Phil Estes.
There is one statistic that helps give a more in-depth look at Hartigan's success: his GPA, having earned an impressive 3.87 GPA thus far at Brown. Just recently, Hartigan was named a First Team CoSIDA Academic All-American, becoming the first Brown football player since 1987 to earn First Team National Academic All-American honors.
On the playing field, Hartigan earned First Team All-Ivy and All-New England honors for the second straight season, and was a third team All-American. Last year, in addition to being named First Team All-Ivy and All-New England, Hartigan was a National Athletic Director's Association I-AA Academic All-Star and selected Academic All-Ivy.
"Nick completely berates the notion that you can't be a strong football player and a strong academic," said Jennifer Lawless, assistant professor of Political Science, and Hartigan's advisor. "I've been incredibly impressed. I don't think I have seen anyone balance competing responsibilities this way."
The political science concentrator holds massive responsibilities on the football field, carrying the ball over 32 times per game, the most in the nation, for an average of 126.3 yards this year. He set Brown records for scoring (102 points) and touchdowns (17) in the 2004 season, rushing for 1,263 yards, the second best rushing performance in Brown history. He rushed for 100 or more yards in six games this season, including a season high 179 yards and four touchdowns against Columbia in being named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week and the Boston Globe Gold helmet Award winner as the outstanding player in New England.
"Against Penn, he had 41 carries. He's a workhorse," Estes said. "He looks so strong even after the last carry. With the number of hits he takes on every play, I do sincerely believe I need to relieve him of some of the carries."
Hartigan was the Ivy League leader in rushing yards with 884 yards on 216 carries. He also led the league in scoring with 60 points against Ivy opponents.
His 2,761 career rushing yards are 15th best in the Ivy League record book and third in Brown football history. Hartigan set a new school record for carries in a season (323), second most in Ivy League history, and his 598 career carries are third most in Ivy football history in league games. Hartigan, who ran for a school record 1,498 yards in 2003, is one of only three Brown players to rush for 1,000 or more yards in a season.
Hartigan has shown no signs of needing any relief. Although the 6-2, 220-pound running back goes into a lot of contact, he seems to dish out a fair share of hits, and rarely goes down on the first tackle. Estes was awed by his running ability when recruiting Hartigan in high school.
"Nick had the knack for keeping his feet and his balance when he ran," Estes said. "When there wasn't a hole, he created a hole. Now when you watch him, he runs with a forward lean. He absorbs the first hit, and he goes with the weight of the tackler, kind of like a Judo move."
Hartigan, who has played football since he was seven-years old, says his running style developed out of his utilizing his strengths and minimizing his weaknesses.
"Being a tall kid, I'm not going to be shifting around a lot," said Hartigan. "I'm always finding holes and running as hard as possible. And anytime you can fall forward, that helps."
His strategies seem to be working, as last year he set the single season Brown rushing record, with 1,498 yards, and also led the nation with 149.8 yards per game. A very unselfish player, Hartigan knows how important it is to have a great supporting cast.
"The linemen have done a great job blocking, as have the receivers and backs," Hartigan said.
Although only a junior, Hartigan is looked to as one of the leaders on the team, and is well respected by his teammates and coaches.
"He's the consummate team player. He gets along with everyone," Estes said. "Nick's the nicest guy in the world and dedicated to his faith. I see him on his way to church on Sunday mornings. I give his parents a lot of credit for his upbringing and setting his values."
In addition to his own values, Hartigan does a good amount of studying of others' values-of the political sort. For his political statistics class last year, Hartigan analyzed how political ideology affects voter turnout. Much like in his preparation for games on Saturday, he does his due diligence for work in the classroom.
"He has turned in a draft for everything he's ever done. He's told me about his schedule and I don't have any idea how it is feasible," Lawless said.
With still a bit under half his time left to go at Brown, Hartigan has already discussed writing a thesis with Lawless, and is leaning heavily towards heading to law school after graduation. In the meantime, Hartigan will continue to explore his interests in political science.
"I think it's interesting when you take a political science class as there are aspects of a lot of different subsets, like history and sociology. There are all kinds of things involved when in looking at elections and trends. It's useful. What I learn in class I get to look at the news and apply it."
While his academic achievement may not come as a surprise considering his performance in high school. He was a member of the National Honor Society and received two writing awards from his English department. There were many who were pleasantly surprised by his breakout performance last year as a sophomore.
"We went into the spring (of Hartigan's freshman year) thinking that Tristan Murray was our starter," Estes said. "Nick came on and had a good spring and I told him that both he and Tristan were going to be used. Tristan got injured and Nick took off nicely. Every time he touched the ball it wasn't a three-yard gain, but a 15-yard gain. We thought that every time we didn't hand it to him, it was a disadvantage."
For the rest of the year, Hartigan continued to astound everyone with his play, breaking numerous rushing records, including the most yards ever by a sophomore in the Ivy League. Hartigan recognizes that it's not always easy to make the transition from playing in high school to college, and relished every moment of his breakout season.
"It was a lot of fun," Hartigan said. "You go from high school when you have success, to freshman year when it's the bottom of the barrel. You miss making the plays, but at the start of last year, things went well, and we got on a roll. I really enjoyed being a bigger part of our offense, but it was a lot of work."
With his senior season still ahead of him, there is no telling what other records Hartigan may break, what accolades he may earn, or how many people he'll befriend. For all these reasons, Estes is thrilled not just to have him on the football team, but also to know him as a person.
"He's such a good person," Estes said. "I'd love for my son to be just like Nick Hartigan."