How TCU freshman quarterback Hauss Hejny made the most of spring camp

TCU freshman quarterback Hauss Hejny didn’t experience a ton of adversity during his playing days at nearby Aledo High School.

While winning 30 straight games and back-to-back 5A-Division II state championships in Texas is far from easy, what Hejny has had to experience during spring football camp with the Horned Frogs has been a much more difficult task.

A back injury to starting quarterback Josh Hoover thrust Hejny into the role of the second-team quarterback, but it wasn’t just Hoover that got hurt. Many of the scholarship wide receivers like Dylan Wright, JoJo Earle, Chase Jackson and more have missed most or all of training camp leaving Hejny to work with a lot of walk-on receivers.

There’s been some growing pains, but for Hejny he’s making the best of it and knows that going through some growing pains is crucial for development at this stage of his career.

“We’ve had a lot of walk-ons step up at receiver, we’ve had a lot of injuries this spring,” Hejny said. “It’s allowed our offense to face some adversity you normally wouldn’t face. We’ve had a lot of big-time receivers that can run down the field get hurt, so we’ve had to change up our scheme and learn from things.

“It’s been good for us, especially for me knowing who to get the ball and knowing who to trust out there.”

Even working with less than ideal conditions Hejny’s talent is easy to see. The former four-star recruit and Star-Telegram Offensive Player of the Year is an electric athlete and has special arm talent that he isn’t afraid to use.

Some of those deep shots have resulted in turnovers, but it’s all a part of the learning process and understanding what he’s capable of doing at this level compared to Aledo.

With the Bearcats, Hejny was always the most or second most athletic player on the field most games, but there are a lot more players that can match his blazing speed at this level.

“The biggest difference has been the D-line and how quickly they can get off blocks,” Hejny said. “The edge rushers, those dudes are freaks out on the edge. They can change direction, they’re fast, big, strong and athletic. Especially on those zone reads I’ve had to be more disciplined with that and disguise things better.”

The early challenges he’s faced in spring hasn’t impacted how much Hejny is enjoying finally being a TCU quarterback. His father Jesse played under Gary Patterson during the early 2000s while his mother JimAnne played basketball and ran track and field for the Horned Frogs as well.

Getting here to this point was something Hejny dreamed of as a child.

“It’s been great, it’s been really cool to finally be in purple,” Hejny said. “I’ve been looking forward to this moment since I was five years old, so to actually be up here in the facility I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”

Hejny has also made a strong impression on the coaching staff and his teammates.

“Hauss oughta be getting ready for the prom,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “He’s transitioned in here and looked like he belonged just in terms of his preparation, his maturity and athleticism. As we moved into spring ball he’s looked like he’s belonged with his knowledge of the offense and his ability to go out and execute.”

Grasping the playbook of offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ is no easy feat, yet the fact Hejny has been able to absorb so much information in such a little time is a sign of how high his football I.Q. is.

“I’ve been very impressed. Our offense runs a ton of plays,” linebacker Johnny Hodges said. “You ask anybody on our coaching staff or across our conference, you have to prepare for a couple hundred plays which is kind of rare. Hauss as a young guy is so athletic, he’s got such a bright future. We’ve just gotta keep showing him the ropes.”

You can see how quickly Hejny adjusts and learns in real-time. At one practice Hejny was struggling during 7-on-7 as most of his deep passes fell incomplete. So what did he do? The next series Hejny came out and was nearly flawless as he just took what the defense gave him instead of trying to force it downfield.

There was a play in last Friday’s scrimmage where Hejny stood in the pocket with a free blitzer running right at him, yet Hejny still ripped a pass to Jack Bech for nearly 20 yards to set up a touchdown. It’s probably a pass Hejny wouldn’t have been able to make at the start of spring, but he continues to learn and improve.

The versatile and aggressive defense of Andy Avalos has also been exactly what Hejny needs to understand the college game. The complexity of TCU’s blitzing and coverage schemes has been a lot to handle at times for both Hejny and the more experienced Ken Seals, but it’s also led to the biggest area of growth in Hejny’s mind.

“I’ve had to identify a lot of different looks pre-snap,” Hejny said. “I’ve had to really slow the game now and I’m trying to get to a point where I can just react on the field instead of thinking, right now there’s a lot of thinking.... I would say defensive recognition has been the area I’ve grown the most.

“In high school it’s a lot simpler looks like Cover 4, Cover 2. I would say Ken Seals has helped me a lot with defensive recognition, he was at Vanderbilt for four years so he knows a lot of football, so I’ve watched a lot of film with him.”

With just the spring game remaining on Saturday, Hejny is about to move to the next stage of development in the summer where he hopes to continue to build his understanding of the playbook and continue to establish bonds with those in the program.

“I’ve just been trying to do everything I can to insert myself into this program,” Hejny said. “I just want to show these guys this place means a lot to me and I’m going to do whatever I can to help this program win and succeed and make the guys around me better.”