NEW ORLEANS — If somehow Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux get hurt in the BCS championship game, Louisiana State will call for its third-string quarterback.
That would be The Harvard Guy.
Andrew Hatch, a 2005 graduate of Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas, admits he took a zig-zagging path to the Tigers. It included playing in the Harvard-Yale junior varsity game and throwing passes in remote Chile with people who never had seen a football.
“It is a little strange how I got here,” Hatch said.
Hatch will be ready tonight when LSU takes on Ohio State. He got into one early game, and shoulder trouble slowed him for the rest of the season.
Hatch, 21, originally was set to attend Brigham Young after catching the eye of then-Cougars coach Gary Crowton in a camp. But when Crowton left for Oregon, Hatch changed his plan and decided to go to the Ivy League.
Hatch enrolled at Harvard in 2005 and wound up playing JV ball.
“You’re a freshman, you show up in August, they don’t know who you are. That was OK,” he said.
One of his best games came at the Yale Bowl, where he ran and threw for a touchdown. After that school year, he did what many in his family had done for generations: He went on a Mormon mission.
“It was a beautiful country, and I experienced things I had never done before. I am so glad I did it,” he said.
Hatch brought along a football and threw it when he could. His first wide receiver was a fellow missionary from Peru who never had caught a spiral.
While playing soccer, Hatch tore his right knee and needed surgery. That put an end in 2006 to his planned two-year mission, and, while he was home in Nevada, he wound up talking to Crowton.
Crowton had become the offensive coordinator at LSU and said Hatch might have a chance to make the team. Hatch walked on and wound up with a scholarship.
“I’d never been to Louisiana,” he said. “It wasn’t on my radar.”
Hatch’s debut came in the second quarter of LSU’s second game, against Middle Tennessee. With his parents and brother watching at Tiger Stadium, he completed 1 of 2 passes and ran four times for 27 yards.
By then, Hatch had earned a nickname from his teammates — “I’m the Harvard guy,” he said.
“There was one guy who told me I didn’t look like I went to Harvard, and I didn’t know how to take that,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if he meant I didn’t look like a bookworm.”
At 6 feet 3 inches and 214 pounds with a short haircut, Hatch fits right in.
“When I first heard about him coming, I didn’t know what to think,” receiver Brandon LaFell said. “I’d never heard of anyone coming from Harvard to LSU. I figured he must be pretty smart.”
Hatch said he had a 3.0 grade-point average in his one year at Harvard and is making A’s and B’s at LSU. But there’s always room to improve, he added.
“I think my parents wish I would read more,” he said.