‘If it wiggles, he hits it’

Ernest Hausmann checks all the boxes for NU

Story by Shane G. Gilster • Photo by Greg Blobaum

Husker LB recruit Ernest Hausmann of Columbus prepares for play during the Sept. 24th game between Columbus and Lincoln High. Columbus won 28-23. (HUSKER ILLUSTRATED PHOTO BY Gregory Blobaum)
Husker LB recruit Ernest Hausmann of Columbus prepares for play during the Sept. 24th game between Columbus and Lincoln High. Columbus won 28-23. (HUSKER ILLUSTRATED PHOTO BY Gregory Blobaum)

Ernest Hausmann could have been just another statistic in poverty-stricken Uganda. But Bob and Teresa Hausmann of Columbus, Nebraska, didn’t let that happen.

Teresa was a high school exchange student in South Africa and saw the third-world side of Africa first-hand. She never forgot about the orphans she had seen and met during her stay, and made up her mind that someday she would adopt a baby from Africa.

Fast forward, Teresa seized her moment after a telephone conversation she and Bob had with Ernest’s uncle, Peter, and his family in Africa. The conversation was mostly about the time Uganda was in turmoil under the brutal leadership of despot Idi Amin. Then Peter mentioned his sister who lived in a remote Ugandan village where she cared for her children but had little income. She was sick, and he didn’t know what might happen to the kids, the youngest being Ernest who was just 2.

Bob and Teresa looked at each other and knew this was their chance to help. They eventually asked Peter about adoption and he said his sister would be very happy if one of her children could be helped. Two years later, Bob and Teresa had a new son and named him Ernest.

Bob loved sports and having a young son could be a chance to share that passion. But Ernest was essentially handicapped after receiving an injection in his hip. The needle pierced a nerve, causing him to lose control over one of his feet.

But Bob and Ernest didn’t give up. Bob did rehab with Ernest everyday, and the nerves in Ernest’s leg slowly healed. Playing on a Nerf basketball hoop helped little Ernest work on jumping and pushing off with his foot. Bob got his son interested in T-ball, basketball and football even though he was still mostly running on one leg. Ernest’s drive and inner strength were on clear display as he hobbled through games. Then, during a T-ball game, the unexpected happened.

“Ernest hit a ball to the pitcher and he was going to have to run pretty hard to make it to first base,” Bob said, describing a scene he will never forget.” As he tried to run, something fired in his foot and he actually ran and beat the throw. My wife and I looked at each other in shock, mouthing the words, ‘He ran!’ After that he just kept getting stronger and faster.”

Ernest developed into such an athlete that he could excel at any sport, but it was football that he gravitated to above others. He eventually exhibited enough talent as a sophomore at Columbus High School to draw interest from Division I coaches. As a sophomore, he started at cornerback for the Discoverers and showed the ability to shut down the opponent’s top receiver.

“He was so athletic and strong that he started at cornerback. He is pretty fast, around that 4.5 range,” said Columbus coach Craig Williams. “In our district, we played Creighton Prep, Omaha Westside, Elkhorn South and Millard South, so he got a lot of challenges out there. In the offseason he bulked up putting on 20 pounds of muscle allowing us to move him from corner to outside linebacker as a junior.

Eventually, his coaches put him wherever they needed to best slow down the opponent.

“We put him on the line to help control the edge. We blitzed him. We dropped him back to the safety spot when we wanted to play with two safeties,” Williams said. “He is so versatile and athletic.”

Nebraska agreed.

Hausmann, then a junior, was on the team bus riding to a game in October when Sean Dillon, NU’s director of player personnel, reached out on Twitter and wished him good luck in the game. It piqued Hausmann’s interest.

The Huskers remained in touch with linebackers coach Barrett Ruud and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander developing a good rapport with him. Then all three had a virtual visit over Zoom the second week of November. Shortly afterwards, Ruud offered.

Ruud told Hausmann that he and head coach Scott Frost believed he “checked all the boxes” they wanted in a player. Still, Hausmann didn’t commit. His parents, especially his mom, urged him to visit campus, see the academic program and facilities and meet the coaches in person.

“But after I told them I got offered by Nebraska,” Hausmann said, “my parents were jumping around and the look on their faces was priceless.”

There never was much doubt where Hausmann was going to commit.

“My family and I are true Nebraska fans,” Hausmann said. “I liked watching Lavonte David when he was at Nebraska and now in the NFL. I love the way he plays with his instincts and making huge plays for his team. I have been following Scott Frost before he was at Nebraska. He is the guy to turn the program around with the guys he is recruiting, but it will take time.

“I like how Coach Ruud reaches out to his players and builds relationships, which can go a long way in winning games. I like how the defense is aggressive and uses the players’ skills to make them better. They are not scared to bring pressure and do in-game adjustments. I like how their linebackers trust their instincts and go to the ball.”

But Ruud is an inside linebackers coach, a position Hausmann hadn’t played to that point. Williams gave Hausmann the opportunity to move inside as a senior and start playing his future position.

“We graduated two of our three inside linebackers, and Nebraska was looking at him to play inside linebacker so we moved him there to help us and help him prepare for Nebraska,” Williams said.

Hausmann made the move and helped the Discoverers to a state playoff appearance this past season. He made 77 tackles with eight tackles for loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and four pass breakups. He also caught 37 passes for 600 yards and eight touchdowns.

“He can play inside or outside because he is versatile enough,” Williams said. “Even colleges will move their linebacker to that defensive end spot if they are big enough. The one thing that Coach Ruud said about Ernest is his high effort and intensity. Ernest isn’t going to take plays off, especially if he is on the backside and the play is going away from him.”

Hausmann currently is 6-3, 215 pounds, but is still growing. “With the way he commits himself and with the access he would have at a place like Nebraska, with that training table and weight room, I could see him in that 225-pound range,” Williams said.

Huskers.com had JoJo Domann give his analysis on Hausmann. Leave it to a second team All-American to tell it like he sees it: “Thinking about the longevity of the program we need Nebraska boys to come in here and set the culture, set the precedent. Talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling, and this dude is what Nebraska stands for. This dude loves contact, if it wiggles, he hits it.”

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