BEAVERTON, Ore. - Hunter Echols will eventually have a difficult decision to make.
Notre Dame has made it so. Echols committed to UCLA in February. But that hasn’t kept the four-star defensive end from Los Angeles from giving the Irish a serious look. He visited last month for Irish Invasion, a sign of his seriousness.
“I’m always gonna be UCLA because that’s my dream school,” Echols said. “That’s where I committed. But they have been making a great push. They really sneak up on my mind from time to time. I’ve been seeing Notre Dame stuff lately. I’ll just walk around on the street and I’ll see someone with a Notre Dame backpack on and I’m like, ‘That’s Notre Dame calling.’ Just little signs, stuff like that. They always pop up.”
Echols finds some comfort in those signs and what Notre Dame brings to the table.
During his Irish Invasion visit, Echols connected with current commitments C.J. Holmes and Avery Davis. He also learned more about what the program brings away from football, which struck a pretty strong cord.
Getting a quality education doesn’t just resonate with Echols. His family took note of what Notre Dame can offer from that perspective as well.
“Ninety-five percent of African Americans graduate and that was really awesome for me and my family,” Echols said. “There’s a lot of racism going on now, so you just wanna graduate and get your degree. If I get my degree from Notre Dame, it’d set me up for life.”
Echols liked enough about the trip to be considering another, likely for the Stanford home game in mid-October. Putting together a complete package is helping keep the Irish involved.
“Just the tradition and playing on national TV every single week,” Echols said. “They own NBC or something like that or they have their own football network. Getting that exposure, internships, all that good stuff. I liked it a lot.”
UCLA also isn’t backing away. Echols plans to visit the Bruins again this month. Defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Angus McClure has been in consistent contact with the 6-foot-4, 220-pound prospect throughout his recruitment.
Echols has also helped build the Bruins recruiting class, which includes five-star defensive end Jaelen Phillips.
“I’ve recruited a lot of guys there like Jaelen and a lot of guys I’ve been recruiting,” Echols said. “I’ve been making bonds. So it’s kinda hard to leave my team or leave my squad. I kinda helped make that squad. I’ve got a lot of effort and emotion into my team. I’m not saying there’s nowhere else that could swing me away, but right now UCLA is my top school.”
Right now Echols doesn’t envision any other official visits outside Notre Dame and UCLA. In terms of putting a formal end to the recruiting process, that probably won’t happen until winter.
“Probably after the Army All-American game,” Echols said. “I’m not gonna commit there. But something in January after football is all done, I’m gonna start shutting it all the way down.”