Hatcher Finds A Home In the Secondary

All through Pop Warner football, Karnell Hatcher played along the defensive line, mostly at defensive end. He didn't have the typical body type, but he was taller than most kids, lanky, athletic and quick, making plays off the ball in succession. When he showed up at Atlantic High in Delray, Fla., three years ago, head coach Andre Thaddies moved him to the secondary.

That ended up being a great idea. Karnell Hatcher hasn't gotten much bigger since eighth grade, but the 6-foot-1, 185 pound safety is one of the most sought after players in the state in the class of 2008. Thaddies reported Hatcher has written scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Georgia and LSU. He said Wisconsin just called asking for the right address to get its offer in the mail. Notre Dame and many other schools are sending regular letters.

"The summer going into his freshman year I could see that he was talented," Thaddies said. "The potential you saw and some of the plays he made back there, I could see it. He ended up starting our last nine games."

After that, Hatcher was dominating. As a sophomore, he made 73 tackles and intercepted seven passes. That's when the mail started rolling in.

"I was really excited, and I thought my high school career was going good once I started getting mail," Hatcher said.

That season prompted a call from Irish assistant coach Bernie Parmalee to Thaddies. Parmalee also inquired about Atlantic's other safety, John Lejiste. Thaddies said that Lejiste already has offers from Wisconsin, Illinois and Connecticut.

"I sent the transcripts to him," Thaddies said. Hatcher has a 3.0 GPA and Lejiste has a 3.8. "They said they were impressed with both of them and would be recruiting them,"

Hatcher has been receiving more interest of the two. This past season, as a marked man, he had 65 tackles and one interception.

"I'm a hard hitter, and I can read the quarterback," Hatcher said.

"I just think his knack for the ball, and the way he comes up and fills the alley," Thaddies said. "When he hits you, you stay hit. I think that is the biggest part of it. He can give you that run support, as well as his knack for getting interceptions and pass breakups."

When the throw the ball comes his way.

Hatcher doesn't have any college favorites. He likes the Florida schools, but could really see himself getting out of the Sunshine State.

"I have never been out of the state," Hatcher said. "I just want to see other parts of the world. That my main focus, to get away from home so I can experience different things.

Other than the Florida schools, Hatcher listed Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, South Carolina and Alabama as schools that have peeked his interest. Yet he doesn't know much about any of those programs. He didn't know Notre Dame was in Indiana.

"All I know is you have to be smart to go there, and they have a good program," Hatcher said. I know if I were to go there, my grades would stay up. They don't let you slack."

A regional qualifier in the high jump and triple jump as a sophomore, Hatcher runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.58-4.62 range. He can max bench press, 235 pounds.

Hatcher has been to nearby Miami for tons of games, but has yet to see a game-day atmosphere anywhere else.

For right now, Hatcher is just going to let the offers come in before really evaluating where he is going to take his visits, and ultimately what school he is going to attend.

"I just want to see how they treat their football players, and all the programs the football players are on, like weight programs."

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