Editor’s Note: Wednesdays throughout the school year, the Brownwood Bulletin will profile a Howard Payne student-athlete who goes above and beyond in their respective sport, in the classroom and in the community.
With the college sports season just getting underway, the first Howard Payne University athlete of the week speaks more to the character of junior tight end Eric Haverstock.
During the Yellow Jackets’ 2017 campaign, Haverstock proved himself in his first season seeing significant playing time by leading the HPU in receptions with 27, along with racking up 243 yards, two touchdowns and averaging 9 yards per reception.
“I came in as an outside receiver and had a knee injury in the summer so I had surgery,” said Haverstock of his first year at HPU. “They still took me in. I was basically kind of a student-coach at that point. I would help out, get the balls in, watch — I still went to everything.”
Haverstock said he often shares his story with underclassmen who feel frustrated about not seeing the field because his story eventually ends with him slowly climbing up the depth chart. In 2016, he saw his first action with nine appearances, catching 8 passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns as well as two carries for 29 yards while splitting time on the line and in the backfield as an H-back.
“I tell them that and not to worry. The year after that I started,” Haverstock said.
Although listed as a player to watch in the recently released Brownwood Bulletin Pigskin Preview, Haverstock is known as much for his accomplishments off the field. Last January, Haverstock was one of seven HPU players to receive the American Southwest Conference All-Academic honors — a distinction only possible if a student has a grade-point average at or above a 3.0. While consumed by college athletics, Haverstock said keeping his grades up is not easy and often requires as much sacrifice as his athletic endeavors.
“It’s very hard at some points, especially last fall,” Haverstock said. “I took 18 hours and that was a mistake on my part. It’s about getting there and grinding it out, going to the library after practice, before practice — really anytime you can. The hour you have in between classes, that is the time you have to really focus on your homework or whatever projects or papers you need to do. It’s all about time management.”
Haverstock currently studies business marketing and said he sees himself working in sales after graduation. Until then, he will enjoy the time he has left at HPU and assisting second-year coach Braxton Harris turn a once fledgling program into a regional, division III powerhouse. But before the Yellow Jackets can get there, they must first conquer George Fox University during Saturday’s season opener.
“Coach Harris has done a great job of coming here and turning this place around,” Haverstock said. “We’re not where we need to be, but we’re definitely going in that direction … We’re saying ‘We’re on the map. Howard Payne is back to compete.’ [GFU] is a really good team, in the top 25 last year. Going out there and showing what we can do is a big step in our processes.”