From walk-on to wonder: Hass puts up impressive numbers for Oregon State

Updated: October 18, 2005, 4:41 PM ET
Associated Press

CORVALLIS, Ore. - In 2001, Mike Hass was a wide-eyed walk-on at Oregon State. No one had offered him a scholarship, not even Division I-AA Portland State, so he decided to give the Beavers a try.

Oregon State was close to his Portland home, and then-coach Dennis Erickson appeared to have hold of a team with a rising profile.

These days, there are probably a lot of teams that wish Hass had chosen them.

The senior split end is leading the nation with an average of 166.2 receiving yards a game and ranks second in receptions at 9.4 per game. He leads the Pac-10 in both those categories.

With his numbers, Hass has steadily gained the attention he lacked coming out of Portland's Jesuit High School.

"It's one of those things that comes with production. And with the attention comes expectations, you've just got to live up to those each and every week. You've just got to come to play," he said.

The Beavers (3-2, 1-1 Pac-10) , who rank fifth nationally in passing offense, are off this weekend before a trip to No. 10 California.

At the start of the season, Hass was looked on as one of the few bright spots for Oregon State, which was stung by the loss of starting tight end Joe Newton for the season to injury.

But since then Oregon State's running game has improved, taking some of the burden off Hass, who has had nine straight games with at least 100 yards receiving.

"Anytime you can run the ball you're going to get more effective as a whole offensive unit. Those guys and the O-line are doing a great job," he said, making sure his colleagues aren't slighted.

At Oregon State, Hass ranks second for career receiving yards behind James Newson, who had 3,572 from 2000-03. He has 177 receptions, behind Newson's 213, and 18 career touchdown catches, putting him in a tie for third on the school's list.

Last season Hass set the Oregon State single-season records with 86 catches for 1,379 yards. Against Boise State last year he set the Pac-10 record with 293 yards receiving.

Hass ranks eighth on the Pac-10's career list with 3,223 yards receiving. Arizona State's Derek Hagan, the only other active player in the top 10, has 3,322. The career leader is Stanford's Troy Walters with 4,047 (1996-99).

Hagan wasn't heavily recruited either and often draws comparisons to Hass.

"Mike is an outstanding receiver who has been getting better and better every year. He started as a walk-on at Oregon State and was basically in the same situation that I was in, he wasn't heavily recruited and he was one of the No. 1 players in Oregon," Hagan said. "He is just a great student of the game who is getting better and better."

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino called the 6-foot-1, 208-pound Hass "very strong and physical."

"He does a good job on the line of scrimmage, runs really good routes, has good hands and adjusts to the football as well as anyone I've watched in a while," Petrino said.

Hass - whose speed was questioned coming out of high school even though he was named The Oregonian newspaper's player of the year in his division - is projected to be a second-round pick in the 2006 draft. And he wasn't even offered a scholarship by the Beavers until he had been with the program for two seasons.

After a recent game, Hass stayed late at Oregon State's Valley Football Center to answer questions from reporters. Then he shook hands with fans, although he sheepishly smiled when one booster suggested he was doing a heck of a job.

Modest and well-spoken, at the start of the season Hass had no idea how close he was to setting all-time school marks. Now he's aware of the numbers - but only because he's asked about them so much.

"Guys will come up to me and say `You know you're this?' or, `You know you're that?' And I say, `OK, cool," he said. "Hopefully, I'm high up there at the end of the year, but all you can do is play one game at a time."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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