KENWOOD, Ohio – Known for multiple state championships and a star-studded Hall of Fame, Moeller High School has become the “go-to” place to find Division I tight ends in the past four seasons.
The Montgomery Road institution always has its fair share of recruits, but since the last state title in 2013, the team has specialized in big players who can catch. In that championship year, then-quarterback Gus Ragland had top receivers like Isaiah Gentry and Chase Pankey, but also relied on a 6-foot-5, 235-pound sophomore named Jake Hausmann.
Hausmann started getting college looks with his blocking and his 16 catches, plus his better-than-average size. The Crusaders also had junior Doug Bates at 6-foot-4 and 230 who had four catches.
The following year, everyone was on Hausmann, who had 29 catches, with Bates grabbing nine. Bates, whose father played at the University of Cincinnati, signed on with the Bearcats, while Hausmann moved on to more personal glory his senior year. In 2015, Hausmann blew up with 50 catches for 718 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He was invited to play in the prestigious Army All-American Bowl and signed with the Ohio State Buckeyes. He was considered one of the top five tight ends of his class and was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals, Scout and 247Sports.
In Hausmann’s shadow last year was Matt Dotson, who had 12 catches. Now, with similar size as Hausmann at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Dotson is also headed to the Big 10 after his Crusader career is over. Also a four-star recruit, Dotson will play for Mark Dantonio at Michigan State.
In Moeller’s opener, the future Spartan had two touchdown catches from both of Moeller’s quarterbacks; senior Evan Ernst and sophomore Miles McBride.
“They know who the main target is on pass plays,” Dotson said after duel touchdowns. “We always have a good connection.”
In their second game against Wayne, the talented Warriors limited Dotson to one catch. Wayne has had Moeller’s number of late.
“A lot of new guys are playing this year and we have to work some kinks out,” coach John Rodenberg said. “I like who we’ve got. They can get better. We’re going to keep working on getting better.”
So, who’s next?
There’s another Bates. Brenden Bates is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds and likely still growing. The junior is Dotson’s understudy, but many colleges are aware of the tall target. With his brother already there, UC has shown interest, as well as Kentucky, Clemson and Florida State.
Beyond Bates, there’s surely more. The halls of Moeller are full of tall catchers in khakis; it’s just a matter of who steps up once they walk past the statue of Gerry Faust for practice.
If they wanted, they could probably use 6-foot-3, 260-pound Aeneas Hawkins, who is primarily a defensive lineman. The junior did get some routes during Moeller’s 7-on-7 run and displayed good hands. However, Hawkins has been sought by nearly every institution with a marching band and a field for defense. He received an offer this week from Ohio State. He is the son of former University of Cincinnati and Bengal defensive back Artrell Hawkins.
Rest assured, the Crusaders should have tight ends lining up to enroll, based on their recent success at the position.
“That’s one of the big things we have; really good tight ends,” Dotson said. “That’s a good thing for Moeller. If you’re a tight end, you should come to Moeller. You’re going to be successful.”