Hunter Echols has been amazingly forthright about what he has been thinking during every twist and turn of his recruitment. When the Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral defensive end committed to UCLA last winter he made it clear that he would still take visits to test the certainty of that choice. After spending the spring and summer visiting a number of other campuses he decided Friday evening that that pledge had come too soon.
“I just felt like I had to open it back up and (evaluate) other options,” Echols explained. “I like other schools. I didn’t want to do UCLA like that and make it seem like I’m going to go there, and then come signing day I sign with another school. So I just had to open it up to respect them and to also be honest with myself.”
Now that he is back on the market… so to speak… the four-star standout's next task is to determine his official visit schedule.
Said Echols, “Michigan, Notre Dame, Nebraska, USC… I really don’t know (them all), but I know Michigan, Nebraska and Notre Dame (will receive official visits).”
Those trips will obviously go a long way toward determining the order of his leaderboard. During a Friday evening interview he indicated Notre Dame had moved to the top of his list. By Saturday he wasn’t as definitive, but he clearly has a crop of top schools, and the Irish have clearly made a strong impression on him.
“I like USC, Notre Dame, UCLA, (and) Michigan,” said Echols. “Those are my favorite schools.”
“Notre Dame’s academics are great, (especially) how they graduate more blacks than any school in the country. That’s pretty awesome. In fact it’s a 95% African American graduation rate, so that’s awesome to hear. A prestigious school like Notre Dame to graduate that many black people that go to their school (is impressive). I don’t know if that means that only had three blacks and all three graduated (laughter), but whatever they’re doing they’re all graduating. So that’s what I like.”
That Notre Dame and Michigan are featured prominently on Echols’ newly expanded list suggests proximity to home might not factor as greatly into his final decision as some believe it will.
“I don’t have any (problem) with distance,” Echols insisted. “That’s my dad. My dad thinks I’m scared to go away, but I’m not scared to go away. Distance does kind play a little factor because I’m not going to be able to come home every now and then.”
Time will tell how much.