The journey from high school to college football prospect takes many different roads. Back in 2010, four players from St. Susanna Catholic School were teammates on a football team that showed promise.
Over the years, Doug Bates, Justin Hilliard, Jake Hausmann and Jango Glackin have each taken different roads to becoming players college football coaches have sought after.
We asked each of them to look back in time about the journey they've been on since their days in the Greater Catholic Youth League at St. Susanna's.
"Wow," said Bates who gave Cincinnati a verbal commitment this summer about the team he was an eighth grader on. "We had me, Justin Hilliard, Jake Hausmann and Jango Glackin, and we were pretty good.
"Believe it or not, Justin was more of a running back as he played fullback and could drag half the team. But defensively, he wasn't really our stud linebacker."
"We were special looking back on it," he said. "I was a fullback back then and only played a little bit on defense as a linebacker. In fact, Yuri Schoenhoft, who plays at Moeller now, was our running back."
With Bates and Hilliard as eighth graders, Moeller tight end Jake Hausmann, who holds early scholarship offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame to name a few, and Lebanon linebacker Jango Glackin who has picked up seven scholarship offers this summer, were the youngsters on the team as seventh graders. However, each remembers the time spent together.
"It was a fun year as we had the four of us on the same team," said Hausmann.
"I remember we were really good," continued Glackin. "I remember Justin was a beast on offense running the ball and Jake being a really good blocking tight end."
While each now understands their future is in the game of football did they think back then that would be the case?
"I have to be honest with you," said Bates. "I did not because in grade school, I was like 6-foot-1, 165-pounds and now I'm 6-foot-4, 240-pounds. Justin is huge now too and while I haven't talked with Jango in awhile, I know he's gotten bigger and Jake is as big as I am.
"But playing with these guys you could see they all had heart and stuff, but they've all got real big and they all worked hard. I think there could still be a few more guys off that team that could get offers too."
"I wouldn't say surprised," said Hilliard. "I'd say happier for all of us as everything has worked out. It's been pretty cool to see the development of everybody and how everybody is succeeding with all of us having a chance to play in college."
"Definitely not," continued Bates. "I was more focused on basketball. So going into high school, I was thinking I was going to be a basketball player. But I guess football just kind of clicked for me.
Only Glackin was sure football was the sport for him.
"I knew I wanted to play college football in third grade," explained Glackin. "I told my father back then that was my dream and he's helped me work towards that goal. But I'm not really surprised by the others. I'm really happy for them as we were all pretty close back in seventh and eighth grade."I knew each of them were really good, especially Justin. So I felt each of us was going to make something out of ourselves."
When asked who the biggest surprise is being a top recruit, you might be surprised by a couple of the answers."I would think it's going to be a surprise as I would have to say Justin," said Hausmann. "Justin's a good player, but he was all focused on baseball and I think everyone thought he was going to go big in baseball. So definitely it has to be Justin for me."
Hilliard followed the sentiment of his now high school rival from Moeller.
"I think you could say any of us," said Hilliard. "But probably me, I'd have to say. Out of the four, I was probably the least expected to do as well as I've been doing. Football was not my main sport back then as I took everything seriously, but I didn't really have the skills to be an elite player. Baseball was my sport and I put a lot of focus on that. But once I got to high school, I really began to like the sport and really put the time in and worked to develop myself with the mind and also physically."
One thing each of the four still remembers fondly is the two games they lost that year to St. Michael's.
"I remember St. Mikes," said Glackin. "They beat us pretty bad in the regular season and then in the playoffs, we were within two touchdowns and they only scored at the end. Those were the only losses we had that year."
"That team was stacked and they had a couple of Division One players too," said Hausmann. "They've always kind of ran our little league so they killed us that first game, but we kept it close in the second one. But they were pretty good."
"They were a little rival and whooped up on us," explained Hilliard. "Cole Jones, who is now my teammate at St. Xavier, was their main player back then."
"The thing with St. Mikes was the fact they pulled kinds from all over and we all went to school at St. Susanna," explained Bates. "Their best players seemed to have really peaked in grade school while Justin, Jake, Jango and I, all matured later in high school."
Bates and Hausmann remained teammates with both at Moeller this fall. Each will look to help the Crusaders win their third consecutive state championship and are expected to play major roles as tight ends.
Hilliard is hoping to get St. Xavier back to the top of the GCL in the fall after a 5-6 record last season while Glackin will look to make a bigger mark on his Lebanon team after they finished last season with a 7-3 record and second place finish in the Greater Western Ohio South Division.
Each of the four players is ranked by Scout.com and all have earned multiple scholarship offers over the past few years.
"It would have been awesome if we could have all ended up at the same high school," Hausmann said in closing.