Jake Hausmann isn't like most high school athletes. Quiet, private – almost shy – Hausmann doesn't seek the limelight and he's avoided the recruiting spotlight at almost every turn. It's not that he doesn't appreciate being recognized for what he does, it's just not his nature to try and make things about him. When you're 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, and one of the country's best high school football players however, the attention ends up finding you. How you respond to it, that's what separates the average from the unique.
For Hausmann, the 2015 season was a challenge from the beginning; a challenge to excel in his third year as the starting tight end at Cincinnati's Archbishop Moeller and to become a leader in the Crusaders' program.
"I wanted him to assume a leadership role," Archbishop Moeller head coach John Rodenberg told Eleven Warriors in January, the day Hausmann committed to Ohio State. "I want him to increase his strength and become the best tight end in the country, which I think he's capable of."
From that day forward, Hausmann worked towards those goals. Despite being committed to the school he wanted to attend early, the country's third-ranked tight end spent day in, day out working on his game in silence when necessary, in public when called upon. He attended multiple Ohio State camps in the summer and fought for an invitation to Nike's The Opening on the Buckeyes' campus in late May, becoming one of only six tight ends to earn that distinction.
“I think I did pretty well against some of the guys. It’s tough going against some of the best guys, but it was good to get myself out there," Hausmann told 11W in May. "It’s huge coming here in Columbus and impressing the guys,” he said. “I’m going to be here in a couple years and it’s a big deal for me.”
At The Opening, Hausmann's performance with Team Lunarbeast helped lead to a 7-on-7 tournament win, a victory he shared with future teammates Austin Mack and Demario McCall. In July, as the summer months faded into his senior season at Moeller, Hausmann was joined by Perry, Ohio's Luke Farrell in the 2016 recruiting class. The duo instantly drew comparisons to Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman, who came to Ohio State together in 2011. More lofty goals, more silent work; something Hausmann has never shied away from.
"Jake has a dedication to practice," Rodenberg said. "He is always concerned about perfection. He'll actually tell you how many balls he dropped in his three years on varsity. (It's a) relentless pursuit of perfection every day, and that's why everyone respects him."
As his senior season got underway, Hausmann's workload was going to increase, a byproduct of being "the man" in his offense. In one game – against Don Bosco Prep (New Jersey) – in September, Hausmann reeled in 11 passes. The offense didn't change, but Hausmann's expectations did.
"We just used more plays with him that we already had. People knew them but could not stop him," Rodenberg said. "Against Bosco he had 11 catches and that was the best team we played. We just rode his back."
Moeller, one of the country's most prolific and historically relevant high school programs, struggled in 2015 as key players were befallen by injuries. Hausmann's diligence and work kept things from getting away from the Crusaders, according to Rodenberg.
"Injuries were a killer," Rodenberg said. "The guys who got hurt were all the scholarship players except for Jake and he kept the team positive. More importantly, he kept us moving forward with the 'next guy in' philosophy. Then Jake was like 'just get me the ball kid.'"
Hausmann's role as a leader has extended to the locker room as well. He's been an important resource for other prospects at Moeller who are beginning to get college attention, including 2017 tight end – and Buckeyes' offer – Matt Dotson.
"(Jake) is always talking about how to practice, he does not let them skimp," Rodenberg said of his star. "He gives Matt advice on recruiting. Jake is a very serious guy but not arrogant. He's one of my top five guys I've ever coached. I think because of the way he prepares, his ceiling is to become an NFL type player."
The praise for Hausmann after his senior season is as high as the expectations coming into it. Rodenberg said another former player of his making a name for himself in Columbus is who Hausmann is wired similarly to.
"He is a lot like Sam Hubbard in his (game and practice) preparation but he's far more serious about life in general," Rodenberg added. "I could see both playing in the league. Jake will go far. He just wants to be great."