Hooper Ready For Irish Visit

California defensive end Austin Hooper arrives in South Bend today and is ready to see what Notre Dame is all about. IrishEyes.com caught up with Hooper about his weekend trip.

Concord (CA) De La Salle defensive end Austin Hooper and his father will make their first visit to the campus of Notre Dame today.

"I really don't know what to expect," said Hooper. "I guess I want to experience what everyone else experiences and just be blown away with the campus, tradition and the academic standpoint of it all, and take it all in.

"But when I get back I expect to have a great picture of what the University is all about."

For Hooper, the trip will allow him the chance to see if he can see himself as part of the campus life.

"I've never been to Notre Dame and I'm going out there with an open mind," said Hooper. "I really want to see Notre Dame's campus and meet the staff and players and see if it clicks."

Hooper also knows this visit will help him in comparing the many programs that have already offered.

"I'm interested in Notre Dame," said Hooper. "I'm interested in a lot of schools because I've not seen them all. That is why I'm just trying to visit as many as possible so I can scratch them off. As of now, I can only speak about the schools I've seen and so far the ones I've seen are pretty cool."

Leading the way for the Irish has been assistant coach Mike Denbrock.

"Coach Denbrock is the coach who offered me," said Hooper. "He's the one I've spent the most time talking to and the one that came to my school a few times. He's also the one I've talked with face-to-face.

"He seems like a pretty straight forward coach and he's not going to beat around the bush. He just tells you what you need to work on. He's not going to try and be your best friend, he's going to try and be your coach."

What have the Irish told the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Hooper about his possible role in defensive coordinator Bob Diaco's scheme?

"They told me about the 3-4 outside linebacker position they want me to play," said Hooper. "They want me because they feel I'm the guy they think they can put out in the 3-4 outside 'backer position and when they go to a 4-3 front and pass rush, I can just move up and become a defensive end which I play in high school."

With plenty of offers to choose from close to home, Hooper said the Irish have a natural draw that attracts people to them.

"The thing that pulled me in with Notre Dame was the tradition of academic and athletic excellence," said Hooper. "That is what makes Notre Dame, Notre Dame. They have the highest graduation rate in all of college football and you know no matter what, you're leaving with a degree instead of putting down football as your major walking away to struggle the rest of your life.

"That is why I wanted to really come out to Notre Dame and check it out to see if it's for me. Those things are very alluring to me."

While Irish fans may hope for a quick commitment, Hooper said he's got things planned out as to what he'll do.

"I'll probably wait until I take my fifth official visit before doing anything," said Hooper. "I'm not going to be one of those guys who commits to two or three schools because it just feels great at the moment.

"I'm going to take a step back and take a couple of days to come off that visit high to see what is real. At some schools I know it's going to be a lot of flash and a lot of rainbows and I'll turn around and see 10 guys committing.

"I don't want to get caught up in the initial sell, I just want to go back and talk with my family and look at the positives and just lay all my options out and see all the schools I'm interested in, and not be sold on one school because I saw that one and not the other ones.

"I feel once I take all my officials I'll be able to lay it out and know what the positives and negatives where with each school, and what school fits and what school doesn't. From there I'll be able to make the right decision."

While Hooper understands the attention that comes with the recruiting process, he's not planning on letting it change who he is.

"All this recruiting stuff, I've not paid much attention to lately," said Hooper. "If a coach hits me up on Facebook, I might chat him back. But right now it's all wide open for me.

"I've not really told too many schools to leave me alone. However, I'm kind of done with the whole recruiting scene and you might be one of the last guys I'm going to talk to if I don't recognize the number.

"I just want to be a high school kid and be a leader on my football team while enjoying high school for one more year."

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