DE Hooper: "Whole Campus Jumped Out"

De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) defensive end Austin Hooper returned home from a recent visit to Notre Dame and spoke to IrishEyes.com about his experience. He also said he could have an accelerated time frame to make a decision.

De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) defensive end Austin Hooper's trip to Notre Dame over the weekend gave him plenty to think about.

Perhaps more than he originally thought it would.

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hooper visited Notre Dame and Northwestern, and is also familiar with Stanford and California. He has offers from those schools, as well as a multitude of others since nearly every school in the Pac-12 offered, but it isn't making his decision any easier.

"It's a lot to think about between the Bay Area schools and out that way," Hooper said. "I'm starting to feel a lot of pressure with the recruiting process."

Hooper was thinking about making official visits before deciding, but acknowledged, "to be quite honest, I don't know" if that will still happen.

If Hooper decides in the short-term, Notre Dame made its mark.

From the beauty of the campus to the history of the football program to the pitch of the coaching staff, Hooper came away impressed.

"It's a unique place," he said. "As (Irish) coach (Brian) Kelly says, we're not better than any place else, but we're different. I think that is very true. It was cool seeing the Heisman trophies lined up and all the national championships in one room.

"They took me through the facilities and sat me down with the defensive coordinator and I talked to the head coach and the players. It was a cool situation."

Hooper also had a hard time determining what stood out on campus.

"The whole campus jumped out," he said. "It was cool being toured around and seeing the Basillica. Inside everything was painted from the early 1900s, and seeing the famous Touchdown Jesus. It was cool to see the Notre Dame you have to tour to see."

How academic factor into the landscape was also broached.

"Coach Kelly told me, ‘I'm not just here to graduate people. I'm here to graduate and win,' " Hooper said.

The Irish plan to use Hooper in the "Cat" position, which he believes fits his talent well, even though he has not been asked to drop into coverage as a high school defensive lineman.

"I feel I'm a guy built to work on the edge, maybe work one-on-one with the tackle and maybe slide down and pass rush," he said. "I feel those are my strengths, one-on-one style against the defensive line. It's just like being a defensive end in a 4-3, but I'm standing up. But as a linebacker you have a little bit of slot coverage, and a little bit of one-on-one coverage.

"Other than that, I think it would be a pretty easy transition from the position I play."


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories