Opportunity knocks for Nebraska walk-on Tanner Hass

West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic’s Tanner Hass sheds a tackle by Bloomfield’s Devin Johnson.

For West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic athlete Tanner Hass, the saying that when one door closes, another door opens sums up his recruitment.

The 6-foot, 195-pounder ended his recruitment by signing as a preferred walk-on with Nebraska’s 2016 class. However, his journey to becoming a Husker was a roller-coaster ride.

Hass originally committed to South Dakota after receiving a scholarship offer at the team’s camp last June. He remained committed to the Coyotes through a senior season that saw him garner all-class recognition in Eight Man-1 after running for 1,778 yards and 36 touchdowns. As a linebacker on the Bluejay defense, he recorded 60 tackles, including 10 for loss.

Then a door closed.

After the 2015 season, South Dakota head coach Joe Glenn — who offered Hass a scholarship — retired, putting Hass’ future in doubt.

South Dakota introduced Bob Nielson as its new coach on Dec. 15. After Christmas, having heard nothing from the new Coyote coaches, Hass said he attempted to contact Nielson’s staff repeatedly by phone and email.

“I kind of begged them, ya know?” Hass said. “Please give me something. I don’t care if it’s good or bad.”

With signing day just weeks away, he finally got a response. Hass said the new staff told him that having never seen him at camp and having little communication with him throughout the recruiting process, his scholarship offer was rescinded. After months of being committed to the Coyotes, he was forced to reopen his recruitment.

Hass called Guardian Angels coach Dave Ridder and asked his staff to help plan his next move.

“When I gave them the news with USD, they started sending film to any school they could,” Hass said.

Ridder said the way everything dragged out with South Dakota put schools that were interested in Hass in a bind. With signing day approaching, they had already fulfilled their quota for scholarship offers.

A former Husker walk-on and three-year letter-winner in the 1980s, Ridder contacted Nebraska to gauge its interest in Hass. NU coach Mike Riley offered Hass a walk-on spot, and with just a week until signing day, he accepted the offer during an official visit to Nebraska.

Looking back on the months leading up to his commitment, Hass sees more than a series of events.

“Everything that happened with South Dakota, it was just meant to be,” Hass said. “I was meant to be a Husker.”

Hass is expected to join the team for fall camp as a running back, though he’s not ruling out a transition back to defense after a year in the strength and conditioning program. Either way, he believes his best football is ahead of him. The door’s wide open.

“Offense, defense or special teams, it doesn’t matter where I fit,” Hass said. “I look forward to contributing to our success.”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1201, sports@owh.com

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