It was clear early on in the 2016 recruiting cycle that Oregon was making a concerted effort to focus on adding a number of linebackers to the upcoming class.
First there was Hunter Kampmoyer. Then they added Darrian Franklin and La’Mar Winston and Bryson Young. And on Saturday, the Ducks added Riverside (Calif.) City College inside linebacker A.J. Hotchkins, a former in-state prospect from Tigard High School.
Shortly after announcing his commitment on Twitter on the heels of his official visit over the weekend, the 6-foot, 235-pound Hotchkins spoke with eDuck.com about why he made the decision to return to the state of Oregon and play for the Ducks.
“It was just a little bit of everything,” he said. “It’s like a complete situation for me. Obviously they’re losing some inside linebackers this year and that’s what I play, so that’s probably the biggest thing for me.”
Playing in Eugene also brings the added benefit of being close to family for Hotchkins. Since he was scouted by Ducks defensive coordinator Don Pellum, he’s built a solid relationship with him and outside linebackers coach Erik Chinander.
“I kind of got to build a relationship with both of them,” he said. “And Coach Pellum is actually going to be my coach and then obviously the defensive coordinator as well. That was big for me.”
Hotchkins gave the good news to head coach Mark Helfrich first.
“It seemed like he was really excited,” he said. “My mom and my dad was there so they were obviously really excited as well for me. And I’m really excited. I’m just ready to step in and try to start learning the playbook and stuff like that so I can get on the field as soon as possible.”
Hotchkins is scheduled to arrive in Eugene on Jan. 4 and he’ll have three years to play two at the FBS level. After two years at the junior college level, he believes he’s ready for the next challenge.
“Mainly it improved not only my confidence but just like perseverance and stuff,” he said. “My willingness to keep getting better. Also, I’m going to appreciate being at a university a lot more.”