Fixing sleep issues a boon for Raulerson

To know Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas/Celina) is to know a person who is as passionate about football as anyone you’ll ever come across.

That enthusiasm he has for the game is one of the many reasons the Longhorns wanted the ESPN 150 prospect to be their first commitment of the Class of 2013.

They figured his love for the game, combined with his infectious personality and -- oh-by-the-way -- All-American caliber abilities, would help garner commitments from other targets.

Texas was right. The two-way lineman has done his part to ensure that the Longhorns will have one of the country’s top classes again.

But there was a time during his junior year when living up to his "Bell Cow" nickname became increasingly difficult. He lacked the energy he was accustomed to having.

Why? He couldn’t breathe out of his left nostril. He had a deviated septum and tonsils “the size of golf balls” that made it nearly impossible to sleep.

“I’d go to bed and I wouldn’t be able to sleep very easily,” said Raulerson, who picked Texas over a slew of offers, including those from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Texas A&M. “Then I would wake up around 1 or 2 a.m. I’d wake up and it would be harder to fall asleep the next time. I would be snoring ... so badly that it woke me up.”

His lack of sleep affected his ability to stay focused in school and in workouts.

“I got really tired and couldn’t pay attention,” he said. “It sucked, a lot.”

It was difficult on his family, and they weren't sure exactly sure what the issue was.

“The biggest thing was he had chronic fatigue,” said his father, Jay Raulerson. “He never seemed to be rested. He struggled with it. He was Mr. Grumpy, I’m not going to lie to you. We tried every sleeping medication known to man and it just didn’t seem to do anything.”

Knowing how wired Jake is by nature, his father and the rest of the family attributed his sleeping issues to him not being able to “turn his brain off” at night.

“He just always thinks about stuff,” Jay said.

The family caught a break, of sorts, when his older sister Jordan went to the doctor because of similar breathing problems.

“She was snoring to the point where her college roommates were like, ‘You need to get something fixed,’” Jay said. “So we took her to an ENT in Dallas and said that she needed to get her tonsils out. She had a deviated septum, too. She went back to school [Jordan is an outside hitter for Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla.] and started practicing volleyball and said she couldn’t believe the difference.”

Knowing that, the Raulersons took Jake to the doctor and discovered he, too, had a deviated septum. A nasal septum is the wall dividing the nasal cavity into halves.

So Jake had surgery in late February to remove his tonsils and adenoids, and the results have been everything and more than he could have imagined.

For one, he’s not snoring as loud as he once was, which wasn’t pleasant for anyone in the house. Because he’s snoring less, he’s able to average about eight hours of sleep a night and thus is much more alert.

“I feel great. It is hard to get back to the best shape I was in because it affected a lot of things,” Jake said. “But I feel fine. I have had a great season so far and have been able to play at a high level.”

Added Jay: “I definitely see him as a different kid. He’s not as moody. He is enjoying football again. He wants to go out and dominate people. He’s not worrying about recruiting, anything. It all came together for him. There is a burden off of his shoulders. He is enjoying things right now. It’s not so much a business.”

It was expected that Jake would be able to pack on some weight after the surgery and he’s been able to do just that. He played at 235 pounds last season but has gotten up to as much as 265 this season. He’s at about 255 right now.

That number should only go up once he gets to Texas, which has toyed with the idea of using him at either offensive tackle or defensive end. He’s rated as the No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 55 player overall in the ESPN 150.

“Once he gets in there with [Texas strength and conditioning coach] Bennie [Wylie] I think he has a tremendous amount of upside,” Jay said. “If you ever saw him without his shirt off you would say, ‘You know, that’s a big frame but that’s not a developed kid yet.’”