Former Oregon State wide receiver Mike Hass remains one of the Pac-12’s most prolific receivers, and if his post-playing career vocation goes well, he’ll continue to slip in the record book.
Hass is one of two Pac-12 receivers with three consecutive 1,000-yard receivers, winning the Biletnikoff Award in 2005. His 1,532 yards in 2005 was a record at the time, one that’s been exceeded twice, by USC’s Marqise Lee in 2012 and Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks in 2013.
Since retiring from the NFL in 2011, Hass has kept himself in the sport — and impacting the next generation of receivers, even if they don’t know it. Hass returned to Portland where he started working with Nike as a developer for football gloves.
Hass, who appeared on the cover of the 2005 Athlon Sports Pac-12 football preview annual, talked to Athlon about working with Nike, walking on at Oregon State and the moment he was put on scholarship.
What do you do for Nike?
I develop football gloves, of all things.
When you say you develop football gloves, do you mean the design and look or the “Sport Science” part of it?
I would say more like the technology part of it, so to speak: The fit, the function, the costing, the manufacturing and engineering.
How did you get started with it?
I got done playing, and I was a Nike athlete when I was in the NFL. I had connections and some friends that worked there. I started networking and meeting the right people and finding my place with the company.
What would a normal day or week be for you?
A lot of meetings, answering emails, usually from Asia. We’re negotiating manufacturing, costing and then going back to Portland to make sure the gloves fit and form properly for the players and that the sizing is OK.
So do you test the gloves yourself?
That’s one of the things that helped me get the job. I used them for 15 years and whatnot. When samples come in, I can try them. We rely on the athletes out there to give us the insights but I can at least put them on and figure out if something is wrong.
Was this in line with your academic background or something you targeted for after your playing career?
My background was civil engineering at Oregon State. While it’s not civil engineering by any means there are definite aspects of school that I use in my day to day job, just in putting things together, solving problems.
I know Oregon State is a Nike school, but do any of your OSU friends have any opinions on you working for the most visible Oregon backer in the world?
I’ve got to do a lot of stuff for Oregon. We do so much stuff for them compared to any other school. There are times when I want to sneak some gloves through for the Beavers, but I need to get the right people on board for that one.
You played for Mike Riley when he was getting started at Oregon State. What are Nebraska players getting to know about this guy?
That he’s genuine. A lot of times coaches in the college profession churn you through and spit you out when you’re done. I think his program allows you to grow as a man. You’re cared about. He’ll be a good fit there.
Were you surprised he left after being there for so long and turned down other opportunities?
Yes and no. Change was a good thing in this situation. He was getting a lot of criticism. I think a lot of it has to do with what’s happening down the road with Oregon and their success. Oregon doesn’t have the money and the things that Oregon does. There are things to improve in that aspect. It’s a good change for him.
Do you still keep in touch with the Oregon State program and people there?
Sure. They’ve had the same equipment manager for I don’t know how long, maybe 20 years. I like to go down there and meet those familiar faces. The coaching staff has changed, so I need to meet with them and keep that relationship going. I’ll always be a Beaver and fan.
You were a walk-on at Oregon State. Now it seems like any time a walk-on gets a scholarship, it’s a YouTube video and people see that moment in real time. What do you recall about the time you were put on scholarship?
It’s a big deal. It’s what every walk-on’s goal is. I remember mine. It was my redshirt sophomore year and we were out at practice, and they drew up a pass play for me, and James Newson, a receiver who was the No. 1 guy at the time, said if you catch this one you’re going to get a scholarship. They ran the play, and I caught the ball and Coach Riley called it in and announced it in front of everybody. It was a cool experience and one I’ll never forget.
Do you ever watch those walk-on videos whenever they come up? Does it take you back?
Definitely. They’re cool. As a young man who’s worked his ass off when no one would give him a chance, it’s always cool to see guys own it. Guys come out of high school and get stars put on them and some don’t pan out and some to. But those guys actually earned it.
I had remembered you won the Biletnikoff in 2005, but I forgot what a monster year it was. You had 300 more yards than anyone else and your peers that year were Dwayne Jarrett, Greg Jennings and Jeff Samardzija. What do you remember about that year?
That was the season we wanted to have. We didn’t go to a bowl game. We only got to play 11 games. I wish I had another game to put more yards on that total. I remember we had a young team on defense, and it was frustrating to put up points and then have a defense that was going through growing pains.
Do you have your Biletnikoff Trophy? Where do you keep it?
It’s in my house, in my office. It has the program to it (from the ceremony) that I keep with other awards that I had accumulated through my career, NFL game ball and those things.