Bauserman finds the right fit with Hornets

Shenandoah University freshman Hayden Bauserman has been named the starting quarterback for the Hornets this season. Bauserman was a 2014 graduate of Central High School. Brad Fauber/Daily

WINCHESTER – Looking back on it now, Hayden Bauserman admits he rushed into the decision regarding which school he would continue his football career following his graduation from Central High School in 2014.

In February of that year, during a National Signing Day ceremony at the Woodstock school, Bauserman signed his letter of intent to play college football at Division II Alderson Broaddus University. But shortly after arriving on the school’s campus in Philippi, West Virginia, located three hours west of his home, Bauserman knew it wasn’t the right fit.

He’d been drawn in by the allure of a scholarship offer, he would admit a year later, and didn’t tour enough schools or spend enough time discussing his college choice with his family. Without participating in a single practice with the Alderson Broaddus football team, Bauserman withdrew from the school.

But it wasn’t the end of Bauserman’s football career.

This past January Bauserman enrolled at Shenandoah University, a Division III school located a mere 30 minutes away from Woodstock and his second college choice if things were to not work out at Alderson Broaddus.

Bauserman participated in spring football practice with the Hornets and used the head start to get to know the offense, his new teammates and coaches. When Shenandoah opened fall camp in mid-August, Bauserman was in competition with sophomore Travis Barton Jr. for the Hornets’ starting quarterback job. On Sunday, the official end of fall camp, Shenandoah’s coaching staff announced Bauserman had earned the starting job, just the latest turn in Bauserman’s journey over the last year.

“It was pretty wild,” Bauserman said of the series of events that led to him being named the Hornets’ starter ahead of Saturday’s 7 p.m. home opener against Gallaudet. “Obviously I went to a different school first out of high school, but I love it here. I was here in the spring. I went through spring ball with all the guys. It made it an easy transition into the fall, into camp, to come in, know all the guys, know the offense, everything like that. It’s been a bumpy road but where I’ve ended up, I couldn’t be happier.”

The Shenandoah coaching staff is pretty thrilled to have the freshman on board, as well.

“Hayden was a young man that we really wanted to bring in a year ago and he chose to go another direction, so the news of his desire to transfer was certainly good news for us,” offensive coordinator Stan Hodgin said Sunday.

“We are by far in the best shape at the quarterback position than we’ve been in the three seasons we’ve been here,” Hodgin added, referencing SU’s depth at the position and the fact that both Bauserman and Barton were with the team for spring practice. “So we feel good about it. We had a great competition through spring ball and it continued into camp this year. I think our team’s in good hands. I really do.”

Saturday’s start will be Bauserman’s first since he and his Central teammates fell to Loudoun Valley High School in the third round of the Region 3A East playoffs during his senior season in 2013. That fall, Bauserman threw for 2,764 yards and 34 touchdowns – both school records – and was named The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2013 Football Offensive Player of the Year.

Bauserman graduated from Central as the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards (6,596) and career passing touchdowns (74).

Bauserman said there are similarities between Shenandoah’s spread offense and the one he orchestrated to great success at Central, although the Hornets use a much faster tempo. Bauserman said getting used to calling plays at a faster pace – and without a huddle – was the only thing “holding me back” during spring practice.

The other big challenge was learning to effectively run the read-option.

“That was probably one of the biggest learning curves for me,” Bauserman said. “I’d never really ran the read-option before I got here but Coach Hodgin’s made it very easy with the reads and what I’m supposed to be looking for. I’m excited for that. Obviously I didn’t run much in high school but I’m gonna do whatever it takes to win football games here. If that means that I have to run the football then I have to run the ball.”

Last season Shenandoah used the read-option extensively, and quarterback Drew Ferguson finished third on the team in carries (100) and rushing yards (449). The Hornets still plan to keep the read-option in the game plan with the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Bauserman taking the snaps, “it will just be different,” head coach Scott Yoder said.

“Hayden’s a big boy, so he can get it up in there and get a couple tough yards,” said Yoder. “He’s not going to win a lot of foot races but we’re not going to ask him to.”

Yoder added that Bauserman has a “very good” arm that should allow the Hornets to stretch the field more in 2015, and Hodgin raved about the freshman’s “football IQ” and his ability to quickly grasp the concepts thrown at him. But Yoder said he’s been most impressed with Bauserman’s attitude.

“What I like about him the best is his demeanor,” Yoder said. “He’s very, ‘I throw a pick, I’m the same way as if I throw four touchdown passes.’ He’s a calming influence in the huddle. And he’s a freshman for us, so that’s a great thing to have. I think he’s very confident in his abilities but he’s also a very humble kid so I think he’s gonna be a very good leader for us.”

With plenty of experience surrounding him – including junior running back Cedrick Delaney, the top rusher in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference last season, three returning starting offensive lineman and a handful of experienced receivers – Bauserman said it hasn’t taken him long to feel comfortable in Shenandoah’s offense.

He hopes that helps take the Hornets to the next step this fall.

“We all want to win the ODAC,” Bauserman said. “Personal awards, none of that matters. I don’t care what it takes. I’m just here to help this team win and bring an ODAC championship back to Winchester.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com