Standout Glen Rose quarterback Ethan Hartman will join the Angelo State University Rams football program needing a mere 6,007 passing yards to surpass the level his father reached playing for the Rams.
No problem. After all, Ethan recorded more than half that many yards his senior year while helping the Tigers reach the third round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs.
On national signing day (Feb. 1) Hartman inked a letter of intent to play football on a scholarship at ASU, an NCAA Division II school in San Angelo — a city already familiar to the family.
Ethan’s father, Erik Hartman, was a three-year starter (1995-1997) for the Rams and was an All-America quarterback his senior year. Erik’s older brother, 6-foot-7-inch Stephen Hartman, played on the ASU offensive line starting two years before his arrival. Also, Erik’s parents, Mike and Becky Hartman have lived in San Angelo about as long as Ethan has been alive.
“It feels surreal,” said Ethan, who signed just inches away from where his father’s former playing helmet from ASU had been placed for the ceremony in front of a large group of friends, coaches and teachers in the GRHS Library. “I’ve just been working toward this moment since I was in junior high — having those dreams. I want to be an All-American like my dad. I want to be in the best position I can to succeed.”
Ethan also considered NCAA Division III Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, but the choice was practically written on the wall.
“I really thought Angelo was a better fit for me,” said Ethan, who is also a standout in classroom, achieving academic all-state honorable mention as a senior. “(My dad) always told me it is a really good school, and a good program.”
The Hartmans moved to Glen Rose in 2006. Erik is an assistant varsity coach in football and basketball, and the girls golf coach. One of Erik Hartman’s previous coaching stints was a five-year stay at Odessa High.
ASU's Rams were 4-6 in Lone Star Conference play in 2016, and 5-6 overall, but led the nation in total offense in 2015 with 560.4 yards per game.
“It’s exciting. I’ll see if I can one-up some of his records,” Ethan said of his dad, who ranks third all-time in ASU passing yardage with 6,006 (1994-1997), including a 383-yard performance against Tarleton State University as a junior in 1996.
“I’m excited that he’s been given the opportunity to play at Angelo,” Erik Hartman said. “They’ve got a good tradition, and they’ve made a lot of improvements.”
Ethan Hartman helped lead the Glen Rose Tigers to an 8-5 record in 2016 before falling to eventual Division II state finalist Sweetwater. He set all-time GRHS records for passing yards in a season (3,472) and passing touchdowns in one season (37), and was voted as District 8-4A Most Valuable Player. He also gained 1,002 yards rushing as a senior, and had 4,226 total yards passing in three varsity seasons with 43 scoring tosses.
His running ability helped him gain an incredible 5,564 yards in total offense at the varsity level.
The 2016 football season was the first at Glen Rose for head coach Cliff Watkins, whose team lost its first four games before pulling off an incredible turnaround — winning eight consecutive games. The Tigers grew more comfortable with Watkins’ passing scheme as the season progressed, displaying impressive timing between Hartman and his deep stable of sure-handed receivers. Hartman also benefitted from both a stout offensive line, featuring all-state performer Matthew Willis.
The Tigers had nine players with more than 200 yards receiving for the season. That group was led by senior Dietrick James, with 53 receptions for 1,209 yards and 11 touchdowns. James averaged an amazing 22.8 yards per catch.
Watkins was new in Glen Rose coming into the 2016 season, and didn’t know Hartman had that kind of potential.
“I knew he was one of the best athletes we had,” said Watkins, who himself had a phenomenal senior year when he played for Tarleton State University, with a school-record 3,547 passing yards in 2003. “He continued to grow each week, and turned into a really good quarterback. That was part of our success this year.
“He’s a kid that excels in everything he does. He is also a great contributor in basketball. He is committed to excel in everything he does, and I think he’ll do great things there.”
Watkins is a former assistant coach at Stephenville, where he saw some other pretty good quarterbacks.
“We had some special kids at Stephenville, and (Ethan is) up there,” Watkins said. “He was able to do a lot of great things, and I was fortunate to be able to coach him.”
Hartman was one of 30 players who officially gave a nod to ASU on signing day. That group included eight offensive linemen and two other quarterbacks. Four quarterbacks are already on the ASU roster.
But the 6-0, 185-pound Hartman, who ASU recruited as an “athlete” rather than specifically as a quarterback, said he will be happy to play anywhere the Rams need him.
He caught 47 passes playing receiver his first two years on the varsity. He got some playing time on defense the past couple of years, mostly in passing situations at free safety.
“Really, I just like to play football,” said Hartman, a starter on the GRHS basketball team at guard and one of the Tigers’ leading scorers. “In our offense, sometimes we’d have me at running back, receiver and on defense. I really don’t have any preference. I’m determined to excel in whatever position I’m in. I won’t be selfish. I want to play in the best position for the team.”
Erik, the receivers coach for the Tigers, said, “The thing is, if you can play football, you can play football. I just needed an opportunity to play, and I think that’s what he needed.
“He had to kind of learn the position (quarterback) twice. It took a little time (to learn Watkins’ new offensive schemes), but once he picked up the offense we started doing well. Coach Watkins did a great job of teaching him the things he needed to know.”
Ethan’s parents met while they were both still in high school in Odessa, but it was an improbable matchup. Erik was a standout football player for Odessa High. Meanwhile, the girl Erik fell in love with — Jennifer, the future Mrs. Erik Hartman — was a student at arch-rival Odessa Permian.
“My mom was Erik’s French teacher in the ninth grade,” Jennifer Hartman said. “We met when I was a senior and he was a junior. We started dating in the fall of my senior year.”
Coincidentally, the Rams’ head coach for the last six seasons, Will Wagner, also has Odessa roots. Wagner was a standout defensive back and wide receiver for last Permian team to win a state championship, in 1991, and was in Jennifer Hartman’s graduating class. Wagner went on to be a standout defensive back for Hardin-Simmons University in the 1990s before becoming a coach.