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Indiana quarterback Jack Tuttle, left, and Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave. Courtesy photos
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Sports Talk: Ex-Grizzlies making their Mission Hills coach proud

It’s every coach’s dream, regardless of the sport or the players’ skill level. It’s the potential payday down the road that is gold, and that’s certainly true of Mission Hills High’s Chris Hauser.

He cashes a personal dividend whenever landing on the Big Ten Network at his San Marcos home. On a weekly basis, the veteran coach is thrilled to watch his former Grizzlies perform.

“Absolutely,” Hauser said. “When you get to work with young people, you enjoy that time with them. Then to see their journey afterward on the field, or whatever they may get into, it makes you so proud.”

Hauser’s pride was in overdrive last week with Ohio State’s Chris Olave, a junior wide receiver, and Indiana’s Jack Tuttle, a sophomore quarterback, shining on the college game’s biggest stages. Both played for Hauser and led the Grizzlies to the 2017 CIF San Diego Section Open Division title game.

While they were prep standouts, there’s no guarantee that designation translates to the next level. Then again, with these players’ athletic prowess and willingness to embrace the grind, Hauser’s not surprised they’ve flourished.

“Chris’ work ethic is off the charts,” Hauser said. “He’s gifted, no question, but he always put the work in.”

Tuttle? He was no turtle hiding in his shell when preparing for greatness and sharing his love for the student life.

Now he’s the big man at Indiana, where everyone knows his name in Kilroy’s, a campus watering hole. Hauser saw Tuttle’s popularity and graciousness up close.

“Jack was like ‘Mr. High School’ and in a great way,” Hauser said. “He knew what he meant to the school and he treated every single person the same.

“His kindness was probably one of his top qualities. A shy freshman would tell him he had a great game and he would thank him, engage with him and ricochet the conversation away from himself.”

No. 8-ranked Indiana’s bounce-back, like Tuttle’s, is admirable.

Before finding Hoosier hospitality — his father, Jay, was a walk-on punter for Indiana — Tuttle absorbed disappointment. He chose Utah after Mission Hills, and while it had a great lake, it wasn’t a great fit for Tuttle.

“His journey was different from Chris’ and it speaks volume about kids coming out of high school that sometimes it doesn’t happen right away,” Hauser said. “We have a lot of pretty good football players in San Diego County. But there are so many other good football players that in college, every practice, every game, is like going against high school all-stars.

“Sometimes it can be humbling for kids to be able to understand that success and failure both take time. You don’t go straight to the top of the depth chart in college. You are going to have to earn it.”

Tuttle’s powerful right arm secured his spot in Hoosier lore on Dec. 5 against Wisconsin. Filling in for the injured Michael Penix, Tuttle heaved two touchdowns in his first collegiate start to give Indiana its sixth Big Ten win in a season for only the third time since 1967.

“They had a spot-on game plan for him, and when I was watching this thing unfold, he was in a zone,” Hauser said.

Olave’s deal is reaching the end zone. His 12 scoring catches last year were the fourth-most in a season in school history, and he continues to carry a bull’s-eye for Buckeye quarterbacks. The speedy Olave has five touchdowns and is averaging nearly 17 yards on 36 receptions for No. 3 Ohio State.

The catch for Hauser, when the pair played for him, was for him not to hinder a good thing.

“I stayed out of their way,” he said. “They always had the green light to do something if the coverage gave it to them.”

Just don’t take away Hauser’s weekends as he tracks ex-Grizzles. Others include Fred Warner, a solid linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, and his younger brother, Troy, a senior defensive back at BYU.

The mission for any coach is for his charges to excel. Hauser’s appreciative that he’s still receiving payback through his former players.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him on jparis_sports.