Oregon State University wide receiver Mike Hass recently took time to answer a few questions from SCS.com. Hass, a former walk-on turned All-American, is one of the top wideouts in the PAC 10 and is a returning senior in Corvallis. After earning a scholarship in the fall of 2003 and postseason Third Team All-American honors in 2004, Hass looks to compile more than 1,000 yards receiving again in 2005. The Beavers, who went 7-5 with a bowl win in 2004, will open the 2005 season on September 3 at home against Portland State. (photo courtesy osubeavers.com)
MIKE HASS, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
SCS.com: You had a great career at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon, earning 4A Player of the Year honors following your senior season. When it came time to decide on a college, what other schools did you consider, and why did you ultimately opt to become a Beaver?
Hass: "I considered Montana, Portland State, Utah State and many others to walk-on. I ultimatly became a Beaver because it was in-state, and they seemed to actually care if I came there while other schools said you can come, but it didn't matter to them either way."
SCS.com: You were actually not awarded a scholarship until fall camp in 2003, your sophomore season. You went from not having a scholarship to starting at wide receiver in the team's first game of the season. All you did that day was go out and catch six passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. What kind of drive does it take to keep working even when you aren't receiving a scholarship? Did you have a feeling your day would come if you just continued to work and make the most of your opportunities?
Hass: "It takes a lot of drive to keep working without a scholarship. You don't get checks and can't eat with the team. It's really a hard way to start. I had a feeling my day would come because I made a lot of plays in practice and on special teams my freshman year, so I knew I was good enough to play."
SCS.com: Once you got your chance, you made the most of it. You finished the 2003 season with over 1,000 receiving yards, the third-highest total for a single season in OSU history, and had a season full of highlights. You had a 225-yard, 2-touchdown performance against Stanford, a 208-yard performance against co-national champion USC, and even made ESPN's Plays of the Day list after an acrobatic, juggling snag against Washington State. Talk about that 2003 season as a whole. It was your first chance to truly make an impact at the major college level, and you soon became known as one of the biggest WR threats in the PAC-10.
Hass: "2003 was an interesting year. We had many weapons on offense and I didn't get many balls early in the year, but the ones I did I made plays on. I got better during the year and jelled with the quarterback, and I became a huge option the last seven games or so."
SCS.com: You began collecting national awards following the 2004 season when you earned Third Team Associated Press All-America honors. Coming into this season, The Sporting News has named you as one of the country's best WRs, and NationalChamps.net says the OSU WRs are the fifth best group in the nation. What does the national recognition mean not only to you but to your team and your school?
Hass: "The recognition is very nice to have for myself and the school because it gets people to look at you as a player and your team as one. You can't worry about what comes; all you can do is go and play."
SCS.com: With that recognition also comes expectations, however. How do you handle the high expectations others have put on you, and tell about one or two specific things you've worked to improve on in the offseason.
Hass: "Expectations are always going to be there. I had them last year when (WR James) Newson left. They said I couldn't handle the pressure of the #1 wideout. All you can do is prepare and go out and execute and make plays. People are going to have their opinions. I've tried to improve speed and quickness in the offseason."
SCS.com: After starting the 2004 season 1-4, the Beavers battled back to win six of the next seven and earned a berth in the Insight Bowl against Notre Dame, a game OSU won by more than two touchdowns. Expectations are again high for Oregon State in 2005 with top players like yourself, LB Trent Bray, K Alexis Serna, TE Joe Newton, and others returning. What goals have been set for this season, both for yourself personally and for the team as a whole?
Hass: "My goals are to improve from last year as an individual and a team. We were a better team than 6-5, and this year we should have a better squad if we work together."
SCS.com: Your head coach Mike Riley is a Corvallis High School graduate and a Beaver at heart. He has led the team to fifteen wins in his two seasons back on campus since 2003. What makes Coach Riley so successful, both on the field and on the recruiting trail?
Hass: "Coach Riley is a genuine, nice person, and people can see that by the way he conducts himself. He knows the game and gives us a plan to win each week. Parents of kids want to send thier children to OSU because they know the coach can coach and win ballgames."
SCS.com: During your time on campus, you've had the opportunity to visit some of college football's best stadiums, traveling to places like LSU, Washington, USC, and more. Talk about the differences you face when playing on the road compared to playing at home, and also tell us how much of a difference you think the fans can make during a game.
Hass: "I've been in some wild stadiums where the fans really get roudy. The crowd can make a difference in noise because it's tough to hear the cadence, but other than that, it's just playing the game but in a different place than home."
SCS.com: You have had some incredible moments while at Oregon State. Talk about two or three of your favorite memories so far, the ones that will stick with your forever.
Hass: "One of my favorite moments was beating Oregon last year in the Civil War. I've watched that game growing up all my life and to play such a huge part in the game (9 catches, 154 yards, 2 TDs) was great. The other (favorites) are the records I've set in my career so far. Those are fun to have because guys will be chasing those when I leave."
SCS.com: One of the toughest parts of being a student-athlete has to be juggling the time it takes to do both sports and school. How much of an emphasis do you put on your school work, and how difficult is it to sometimes get all the things done that you need to in one day?
Hass: "Balancing school and football can be a real pain at times. As an engineering major, we get homework assignments that take days. I don't have the time to put in the work other students do with practice and film, so I'm at a disadvantage, but I get by somehow."
SCS.com: In recent years, the topic of paying college athletes has come up more and more. Some people say that since the players make so much money for their school, their conference, and the NCAA, they should be paid. Others disagree, saying that paying college players is not right because that is what professional sports is for. What is your opinion on this subject?
Hass: "College athletes do get paid by school and stipend, but the ratio of how much we get and how much they make off us is so low (that) I think sports like football and basketball should get more money because we generate money for the school and the other sports."
SCS.com: If a young player was reading this and aspired to become a successful football player, what advice would you give him?
Hass: "If I had to give advice to young players out there, it would be to find something to improve every year. If you stay the same ability, others will pass you up, and you'll wonder what happend. Always find ways to improve yourself and you game."
SCS.com would again like to thank Oregon State's Mike Hass for taking time to answer our questions. We would like to wish he and the Beavers the best of luck throughout the upcoming season.
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