“He kind of got it rolling,” Hockman said. “He told me I should give North Carolina a look. And then I went down there and I loved it.”
After the positive first impression, Hockman, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder from McEachern High School, became intrigued by UNC’s quarterback situation.
“I think it’s a pretty good situation to be walking into with Mitch [Trubisky] playing this year and probably next year,” Hockman said. “And then I’ll be able to red-shirt and compete for the job as a red-shirt freshman.”
Specifically, Smith got the ball rolling after he committed to UNC during his second visit to the school. Accordingly, Hockman was in Chapel Hill a week later.
According to Hockman, Smith’s recruitment of his quarterback stopped after that initial visit.
“He’s kind of supportive of me,” Hockman said. “He tells me, ‘Go where it’s best for you.’ It’s not like, ‘You have to come to North Carolina.’”
Hockman and Smith have been teammates since the fourth grade. Thus, Hockman says he has “of course” thought about continuing to throw passes to Smith in college.
“He’s been my favorite target since forever – since I remember being able to throw a football well,” Hockman said.
In February, Hockman and Smith visited UNC together for the first time. The pass-catch duo attended the Tar Heels’ exclusive junior day, which was held in conjunction with the basketball game against Duke.
Hockman and Smith tentatively plan to return to UNC on April 9.
“I just want to get my mom to see everything, because she has never really seen anything,” Hockman said. “She saw the stadium – when we visited for the game – and that’s about it.”
This coming Saturday, Hockman is scheduled to visit Florida State. He’s also working on a trip to Alabama. After Tuscaloosa, he’ll put his travels on hold until the summer.
Within a month’s time, Hockman’s favorite schools list has expanded to five.
“I like Florida State, North Carolina, and Alabama kind of crept in a little bit, Tennessee, and Auburn,” Hockman said. “I like all five of those. It’s kind of my top five. Those are kind of my favorites I guess.
“Most schools are the same [and] they do the same things, but there are little differences.”
Hockman says he hasn’t necessarily established any order to that list. Hence, he doesn’t have a leader.
Although Hockman, a one-time Georgia pledge, recognizes that quarterbacks tend to commit earlier than other positions, he doesn’t feel rushed to make a decision.
“Usually, [schools] only take one,” Hockman said. “So, if a guy is like, ‘Oh, I really like this place,” then they’re going to commit, because they don’t want somebody else to commit before them.
“The schools that I’m kind of looking at have two or three guys that they’re really looking at. So it’s not like a huge field that I’m going up against for my spots.”
At the same time, Hockman would prefer to commit as soon as possible to allow the other schools to move on quickly. But, he doesn’t have an exact time frame.
“I’d like [a commitment to] be soon, but you never know,” Hockman said. “It could be before spring ball or it could be before the season or it could be during the season. It’s just when I know I’m going to the right place.”
Whoever lands Hockman is getting an elusive pocket passer, who has been around the game extensively all of his life.
“I think he has a lot of versatility,” said Kyle Hockman, McEachern’s head coach and Bailey’s father. “Obviously, he has a great arm and great accuracy, a lot of body quickness. He’s really good in the pocket and good on the run. He’s not a runner per se, but is really good at avoiding the rush and extending the play.
“And he’s worked at this game for a long time. He’s been around it – ball boys, two-a-day practices. He started our team camp when he was in seventh grade, so he’s been going to our team camp for six years now.”
Also, Hockman has quite a football pedigree. In addition to his father, Hockman’s grandfather is an Ohio Hall of Fame high school coach and his uncle played quarterback at Kentucky.