A Perfect Fit

Deep Run (NC) South Lenoir head coach Kevin Wilson says NC State was the perfect fit for standout defensive tackle K'Hadree Hooker.

Deep Run (NC) South Lenoir head coach Kevin Wilson knows a thing or two when it comes to talented defensive linemen. It was roughly a decade ago that he developed one of the nation's most sought after prospects in all-everything defensive end Mario Williams while at Richlands High School in Richlands, North Carolina.

Fast forward to 2011 and Wilson has another up-and-coming defensive lineman in defensive tackle K'Hadree Hooker. Ironically, both of his headliners committed to NC State and both proved to be extremely versatile on the high school level. Wilson talked with Pack Pride recently about Hooker's development into one of the state's most coveted football prospects.

"K'Hadree, through the four years we've had him, has continued to grow every year on the field and as a person and especially in the classroom," said Wilson. "We knew he was pretty special when he came in as a freshman. He came when I came. We met in May when I had just got the job (at South Lenoir) four years ago.
"He was a very good AAU basketball player. He was about 6-foot, 250 pounds and he literally was our third-string quarterback. He was dunking a basketball. We played him at fullback his freshman year and then he played a little bit of defensive line. At the end of his freshman year he broke his hand so that kind of set him back in the weight room and it kind of set him back in the classroom."

However, after his freshman year, a trip out west proved to be the launching point for Hooker as a college prospect.

"In the spring he started going to combines in his age group," said Wilson. "He went all the way to Oklahoma to the National Underclassman Combine for the top freshmen in the country and that got him on everybody's radar.

"He progressed to his sophomore year, and we moved him to the defensive line. He has, and again this year, never come off the field. He's in on special teams. He starts on the defensive line, and he's our starting offensive tackle as well as playing a lot of offensive guard. He's gotten stronger. He's gotten himself in better shape."

Wilson noticed Hooker's recruiting explode over the past year with that interest beginning with NC State. Through it all, Wilson said Hooker has remained level-headed and kept everything in perspective. But, Wilson added that the thing that makes him most proud is that Hooker ultimately decided to keep his football talents at home.

"He's handled himself and all this stress of being recruited," said Wilson. "I mean, he's been offered scholarships to play in SEC schools. They treated him first class when he went down to Auburn. They're the national champions and they're riding him around in an Escalade, touring the town.

"But I guess the thing we're the proudest about is that we're keeping him in-state. He's staying in North Carolina. He was born and bred in eastern North Carolina. North Carolina State by far, of all the schools that offered him a scholarship, they were the first team to recognize his talent. They said it was going to blow up and it did. My hat's off to NC State for just a great job of recruiting him."

Wilson said from the beginning, the South Lenoir coaches, Hooker's family and even Hooker himself knew exactly what they wanted and needed from a future college.

"What we looked for as parents, we looked for an older, mature coaching staff that had been together for a while," he said. "It's like our coaching staff here. And he told us, when he started seeing he was going to be a big-time recruit, that he needed coaches like he had at South Lenoir.

"K'Hadree said he wanted coaches that were older men that had been together and were going to take care of him and that he could trust them and that's what Tom O'Brien and his staff bring to the table. At the end of the day that was the biggest selling point."

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