RECRUITING 2002: California RB Sets Visits

Hershel Dennis, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound running back from Long Beach Poly (California), had another big game last Saturday and led Poly to their third straight CIF Championship. With the season behind him, Dennis can now turn his attention to recruiting and he has a solid top three and all five visits set.

Dennis rushed 26 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two pivotal receptions for 59 yards and as is often the case with him, seemed to get stronger as the game went along.

"Edison was a good team and I knew I had to bring it in that fourth quarter for us to come out of there with a victory," Dennis said. "I could sense our line starting to wear them down a little and when I see that, I start to run even harder."

The more I watch Dennis, the more he reminds me of former Dallas Cowboy great Tony Dorsett. Despite not being the biggest running back in the world, the first guy rarely brings him down and he never takes a direct shot because of his great vision, balance and his ability to deliver the blow to a defender before he takes one. You rarely see Dennis get hit and fall backward or even to the side- he always seems to fall forward upon contact.

On the recruiting front, Dennis will take his first visit this weekend (Dec. 14) to Washington followed by trips to Oregon January 4, USC January 11, Alabama January 18 and UCLA January 25. He has already had home visits with USC, Florida, Oregon and Washington and UCLA had just left before we talked to him.

UCLA- "They have a lot to offer to a running back and the visit definitely moved them up," Dennis said. "Coach Toledo explained how I could come in early there because they're on the quarter system and said with DeShaun (Foster) leaving, the running back position would be wide open. Plus it's close to home and they have a strong offensive line coming back next year."

Despite the visit, UCLA is running fourth for Dennis behind USC, Oregon and Washington.

USC- "I've always liked USC and they have a nice team coming back. They're the only school along with Florida on the semester system so I couldn't enroll early there, but that wouldn't keep me from going there. If I wanted to go to USC, I would just go to all of the spring practices and work out with the team as much as possible without actually taking part in the team stuff."

Oregon- "They're a program on the rise and the last three or four years, they've been on a different level than the rest of the teams in the Pac 10. I love watching them play and they can definitely run the football. Every year, they get a little closer to playing for a National Championship and that's what I want to do."

Washington- "They're just like Oregon but in a different state. They're a program on the rise and have a great coaching staff. I hear they have great alumni support at Washington and it's a strong school academically. I'm really looking forward to my visit this weekend."

Alabama- "They've been recruiting me hard since the summer," Dennis said. "I like their tradition a lot and I think it's a school that I could play early at. They lose some running backs and with me coming in for Spring practice, it would give me a shot to play right away. Plus I've always liked the SEC conference. They play great football back there and the passion they have for football is on another level. It's like a religion."

Crimson Ticket Extra: It is probable that Alabama could run out of scholarships in the near future. Additionally, Dennis will enroll at the school of his choice around January 25th which will be problematic for schools on the semester system. Consequently, this scheduled visit is not a certainty.

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