Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Malik Hausman remembers being in a Tucson hospital dazed and confused. When he started questioning others who witnessed him being hit by a car to figure out what happened, Hausman realized he was fortunate — being knocked out and tearing the ACL in his left knee seemed pretty minor considering what he endured.
Hausman, a senior football player at Bishop Gorman High, says he was struck by a speeding Jeep Wrangler during a recruiting trip at the University of Arizona, where he is verbally committed to play. If it weren’t for the quick reaction of Tony Fields Jr., another Arizona verbal commit from Las Vegas, who pushed him out of the way, Hausman’s fate would have been much worse that late-June evening.
The vehicle, which both teens say was speeding, clipped Hausman instead of hitting him head-on. The driver initially tried to flee the scene, but was tracked down by the group of recruits and player-hosts they were with, Fields said.
“I don’t remember a thing — I blacked out,” Hausman said.
Hausman, a defensive back and three-star recruit, had verbally committed a few weeks before his visit. He had attended Arizona’s camp earlier in the summer, instantly falling in love with the campus and football program. But his mother hadn’t visited or met coaches, and the second trip was a chance for her to see what he was impressed with.
Thankfully Fields, a linebacker at Desert Pines, was part of the trip.
“It was like a spirit or voice telling me to look to my right,” Fields said. “He says all the time that I saved his life. But I don’t look at it like that. I saved him from more serious injuries.”
Once Hausman returned to Las Vegas for follow-up visits with doctors, another reality of accident become clear: The pain and swelling in his leg would require surgery. He wouldn’t play as a senior.
Hausman is part of Gorman’s talented class of 2017 — more than 10 are expected to sign with major Division I programs in February — and expected to be a key cog in the secondary. He’d already been part of two national championship teams.
Hausman is making the best of his situation. Instead of disappearing from the program because he has no game to play in, he’s hasn’t missed a practice or function. When the team watches film, he watches film. When they hit the field for practice or games, he’s vocal on the sidelines encouraging teammates. When they lift weights, he lifts, too.
“This is my family. I owe them that, to still come here and help out,” he said. “I know this was supposed to be my year and I was about to blow-up, and it hurts just thinking about it. It could have been my year. But it’s still our (Bishop Gorman’s) year.”
The injury, as it turns out, has some benefits. He’s become a student of the game and feels he has a better understanding of his position. He’s so respected by teammates, coaches named him a team captain for a few games, including an overtime win against St. Thomas Aquinas on ESPNU.
Gorman won on a 2-point conversion in triple overtime to cue a massive celebration. A few minutes earlier, they were down to their last play, but the game was extended on a blocked field goal to keep Gorman’s 40-plus game winning streak alive.
“After the St. Thomas game, he was one of the first kids I saw and he was crying,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said. “He was crying because he was so happy for his teammates, but probably because he wasn’t in there playing in a game like that.”
It’s one of the few times Hausman admits becoming overcome by emotion. He deleted an online highlight account in September because there were no highlights to show. Then, a few weeks later, went back to the site to watch film Gorman Boise State camp.
“That was the last time I was in a Bishop Gorman uniform,” he said. “You never know when it’s going to be your last game. Fortunately for me, I’ll play again.”
He expects to be fully cleared by the spring to return to full action and plans to compete for playing time immediately at Arizona. He and Fields could eventually play in the same defense — two Vegas kids whose bond was made stronger through tragedy.
“As bad as that night was, it made us stronger,” Fields said. “That’s my guy. I can’t wait to get there with him.”