Highly recruited consensus 4-star junior offensive lineman Justin Hasenhuetl saw several college coaches back off because he suffered a knee injury last fall, but University of Arkansas offensive line coach Eric Mateos isn't one of them.
Hasenhuetl, 6-5, 290 pounds, of Rabun Gap, (Ga.) Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School has accumulated scholarship offers from Arkansas, Clemson, Auburn, Oregon, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida, Penn State, Ole Miss and numerous others.
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School Coach Derek White believes the injury caused Hasenhuetl to not be elevated to 5-star status. He said some schools are waiting to see how he recovers.
"They're still on him but not as much," White said. "He had an injury this year that kind of pushed them back. So I think it's also helped him realize who's in it for the right reasons and who's not."
Hasenhuetl suffered an ACL injury in week five of the season. White has supreme confidence in Hasenhuetl's ability.
"He's going to be 100% recovered and he's going to play in the NFL one day," White said.
On3.com's industry ranking lists Hasenhuetl the No. 6 interior offensive lineman and the No. 140 overall prospect in the nation for the 2025 class.
Mateos visited the school during the December and January contact period that ended Feb. 3. White said Mateos has emphasized how the Hogs plan to focus on physicality.
"Getting after people, being downhill," White said. "That really resonates with the kid."
White praised Mateos' recruitment of Hasenhuetl.
"I know Coach Mateos is doing a really good job recruiting him because he's in contact a whole lot and has made him a priority and really has got on him," White said.
It looks like Arkansas will get a visit from Hasenhuetl in the future.
"I know he wants to see it and see what it's like," White said. "I think the blue collar kind of mentality and in the SEC, I obviously think that really resonates with him very well."
Hasenhuetl isn't the normal highly sought-after recruit. He arrived in the United States from Germany as a freshman during the covid-19 pandemic while being very limited in his ability to speak English.
"We're an international boys schools with 51 countries represented and have English as a second language," White said. "Think about a kid coming from Cologne, Germany, really can't speak a lot of English and is going to be a ninth grader. Young and I'm doing it because I want to play football and has since become an honor roll student at the No.18 educational boys school in the country. That's a pretty amazing story right there.
"Pretty astounding what he's done academically and socially."
White jokingly sees Arkansas and Hasenhuetl being a match because of something missing when he smiles.
"He's missing his front tooth, so he would look real good being a Hog," White said.
Hasenhuetl, who lost the tooth during a water slide accident as a kid, has a cap.
"He has one but I tell him don't wear it," White said. "I tell him he looks a lot damn meaner without it."
White and Hasenhuetl keep college coaches entertained with bogus stories of how the missing tooth happened.
"He's gotten so comfortable during this recruiting process with coaches," White said. "We make make up a story every time of how I knocked it out and I threw a white board and an iPad and I punched him. He tells a different story to coaches and they die laughing."
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