Last January, Coach Matt McClure took over an Atlanta (TX) high school football program that had managed just 1 win in 2010. One of the first players Coach McClure noticed was a tall, skinny kid named Rickey Hatley. Hatley had been playing offensive tackle for the Rabbits at a little over 200 pounds, but Coach McClure noticed two things about Hatley right away. One was Hatley's work ethic. The other was that Hatley had the tools to be a BCS-level defensive end.
McClure and his Rabbits went to work, and by season's end they had a winning record, and a spot in the Texas state play-offs for the first time in five years.
Near the end of November, the Missouri coaching staff got a look at Hatley, and the Tigers decided to bring the 6'4" 240 pound DE in for a visit
Last weekend, Hatley and his family arrived on campus at Missouri. It didn't take long for mutual admiration to turn into a verbal commitment by Hatley to play football for Coach Pinkel's Missouri Tigers.
ShowMeMizzou.com spoke with Hatley following his visit and verbal commitment to Missouri, and he shared some of his thoughts.
"When I went to Missouri for my visit, I learned that they're all about family, and that they graduate 96% of their players," said Hatley. "And, they're moving to the SEC!"
Hatley said that his family liked Missouri.
"They liked it more than me," exclaimed Hatley, who is looking forward to coming to Missouri and getting to work.
Hatley was hosted on his visit by RSF DE Kony Ealy. He chose Missouri over Texas State, his only other offer. He said that he expects to hear from other schools, now that he's committed to Missouri. He said that he's going to tell them that he "already committed to Missouri".
Hatley said that he wants to be the first from his family to graduate from college.
Coach McClure said that Hatley was named second-team All-State in Class 3A. He also praised Hatley's work ethic, and he said that he believes that Hatley will do very well at Missouri.
"I just think his upside is tremendous," said Coach McClure, talking about what he sees for Hatley at Missouri.