Numerous lives changed during the pandemic.
Bixby High School breakout star Luke Hasz is no different.
Before the world stopped, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound tight end dominated in another field — the basketball court.
Playing for Team Griffin on the EYBL circuit, Hasz fell in love with the hardwood. But once that season was scrapped, he hit the gym with his fraternal twin Dylan Hasz, who helped recruit him back to the football field.
Hasz returned to the gridiron in 2020 for the first time since elementary school.
“His last year was really fifth grade,” Luke’s father Darren Hasz, told SI Sooners Friday in a phone interview. “He was going to play a little bit in seventh grade, but he had an injury, an injury that he dealt with from basketball, and we just decided to, you know, hold it out. (Dylan and Luke) started working out and we ended up buying weight equipment, and got some luckily because it was hard to get weight equipment during COVID.
“But we got it before that happened and then they started working out in the garage and his brother kind of worked on him and got him to come back and play some football — and then a year later, our head’s spinning.”
The Hasz’s heads are spinning for good reason, because nobody could have predicted what happened next.
After hauling in 32 receptions for 703 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020, Luke’s recruitment has blown up. Picking up his first scholarship offer from Oklahoma State in December, his offer list now includes 30 schools, and he has risen to the top-rated tight end in the 247 Sports rankings for the 2023 recruiting class.
“We’re extremely humbled, but it’s also still surreal,” Luke’s mother, Stacy Hasz, said. “We’re getting there. But it still feels like when we’re sitting places with people, like, we’re interested and we’re listening, but it’s like they are talking about somebody else’s kid.
“I don’t think we ever imagined it. It’s a great honor.”
When the NCAA dead period expired at the end of May, the Hasz’s immediately hit the road. Luke has taken unofficial visits to Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma already in June, with plans to head back to Stillwater and visit Arkansas in the coming weeks.
“All these schools that we’ve gone to, each one of them is just different,” Darren said. “It’s amazing how different each school is in their feel. As we’ve gotten further into the process, we’re now more comfortable on what questions to ask. The first one we went on, we were like a deer in the headlights, we didn’t even know what to say.”
And while jet-setting across the country to meet with Nick Saban, Ryan Day, Ed Orgeron, Lincoln Riley and Mike Gundy is a great privilege, it’s a lot of work for Luke.
“On the backside, it’s a lot of work on his part. I mean it’s a lot like running a business,” Stacy said. “He enjoys it, he loves it, he respects it and he respects every coach that calls. … But it is like a business too. It takes a lot of work.”
All the while, Hasz hasn’t missed a single workout or practice as Bixby prepares to defend another State Championship in 2021.
“I think that’s a direct reflection of Coach (Loren Montgomery) and Bixby Spartan football,” Stacy said. “They are very, very selfless. They wouldn’t expect anyone to miss a workout for whatever reason.”
“That’s part of the culture Coach Montgomery has,” Darren said. “It’s not about me, it’s about we.”
As Oklahoma’s ChampU BBQ takes place this weekend, Hasz will be making his second trip to Norman in the period of a week to take part in the festivities.
Growing up so close to the in-state programs, Stacy Hasz said the family still wanted to take a moment to appreciate the gravity of heading to Norman for a visit with the Sooner coaches.
“Even though we just drove down the turnpike, it’s still just an honor to be there,” Stacy said. “I think it would be easy to just go, ‘Oh well, we’re just driving to Norman.’ So I mean we all made a conscious effort to be aware of where we were going and what we were stepping into. Which is a great program under great leadership.”
Despite visiting in the midst of their BBQ preparations, Darren said the Oklahoma staff still did a great job of rolling out the red carpet for the Hasz family.
“I think they did an extremely good job of showing us everything, even though they’ve got a huge weekend coming up,” he said. “All the coaches taking the time to meet us and shake our hands and introduce themselves. … They made us feel very welcome and wanted.”
Stacy and Darren both said they got to spend quality time with OU’s new tight ends coach, Joe Jon Finley, and he was able to sit down with Luke for nearly 45 minutes and lay out exactly how Hasz would fit into the offense and what role the coaching staff had in mind for the Bixby star.
“Coach Finley did a great job of that, and it’s fun for me to watch and learn along the way,” Stacy said. “That’s one of the things Luke really enjoys.”
Not only was Finley able to lay out exactly how he sees Luke fitting into the offense, Stacy said she felt Finley’s demeanor and coaching style would potentially be a great fit for her son’s personality.
But the offense wasn’t the only thing that caught the Hasz’s eyes in Norman.
“Another thing that keeps coming to my mind that OU offers is their stability,” Darren said. “A lot of their coaches have been there a very long time. They don’t have a lot of people come in and out of the program every year. That says a lot about programs, especially in this day and age.
“That’s something that’s been hard for me to sort through as a dad is sending your son somewhere where’s he’s really comfortable with the coach and they build a good relationship, and that coach takes the next step to the next level or goes to another school. … That’s just hard to put our finger on.
“I don’t think Coach Riley is going anywhere, and I don’t think he’s going to fire the offensive coordinator, so I think they’re going to keep doing what they’re going to do.”
While the Hasz family takes in the ChampU BBQ, they said they’re going to let Luke set his own timeline for how he wants to narrow down his school list and set a commitment date. But as a 2023 kid, he still has plenty of time.
In the meantime, the family is just adjusting to life with the nation’s top tight end in the household, well aware that Luke’s life has changed drastically over the past year.
“We worry because he’s a young man and we all know young men in this world are growing to be mature … and it’s made Luke grow up rather quickly,” Darren said. “His path is going to be different than a lot of normal 16-17-year-olds are because the things he’s really got to watch and really got to keep his circle tight.
“It’s different from most kids what he has to deal with,” he said. “He’s just under a microscope and it’s hard on mom and dad to see him have to watch his p’s and q’s.”