Locke is Looking West

2015 three-star Beaumont (Tex.) Central cornerback James Locke had never been more than 45 minutes away from Beaumont prior to last month, and is eager to visit Los Angeles, where much of his family lives...

Heading into February, Beaumont (Tex.) cornerback James Locke was thinking about making an early decision, at some point before the start of his senior season. With two offers, one from SMU, the three-star figured he'd have a fairly easy decision to make.

Then the offers came. By the end of March, he had nearly twenty offers, including offers from Big 12 powers Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Baylor, in addition to Notre Dame, UCLA, and a host of others.

Even though he was lightly recruited prior to the deluge of offers, Locke says the past month has been far from overwhelming.

"Not really overwhelming at all," Locke said. "I enjoy it. I've been waiting on it since forever, so I wouldn't say it's overwhelming at all. It feels really good."

The national attention has been significant for the Texas native, who says that, prior to recent visits to Oklahoma and LSU, he'd never been more than 45 minutes away from Beaumont, and that those trips were usually just to go eat in Lake Charles before driving right back. He's hoping to use this process to open his eyes to the world.

"The reason why I'm enjoying it so much is because I'd never really been outside of Texas," Locke said. "I live right next to Louisiana, and I'd never been. I really haven't had that experience of somewhere else. I want to explore the world, and just see what things are like outside of Texas, and then I can see if I want to commit to a school outside of Texas."

One of the schools that might have a solid chance of steering the Texan away from the Lone Star State is UCLA. The Bruins have been in contact constantly, with head coach Jim Mora and defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin in contact every two or three days. The Bruins may have an ace in the hole as well.

"(UCLA) is one of the main visits I'm trying to make," Locke said. "The reason why is I have family in L.A. That's where my dad was born. He was kind of raised there, he moved here around high school. Pretty much all of my dad's family is out there. It's pretty nice that they are out there, because it would feel almost like home if that's the right place for me to be."

Getting attention from Mora was also significant for Locke, particularly earlier on in the process, but with the more national attention he's getting, he said that more head coaches are staying in touch.

"I stay constantly in contact with Coach Mora and Coach Meat," Locke said. "It was a big deal that Mora was personally recruiting me early on, but now even more head coaches have started to stay in contact with me. I'd say eight or nine are personally recruiting me now."

Locke has become such a commodity, in his eyes, because of his versatility. Many schools are recruiting him in a bit of a hybrid role, where he can play safety, corner, or nickel back depending on the scheme and formation.

"I can play in the box as a box safety," Locke said. "I can play as a run stopper, I can play pure corner, on the outside edge on an island. Schools just like the fact that I'm versatile and physical. I can play anywhere on the field."

As for visits, Locke had a busy March, hitting LSU, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M. He doesn't yet have plans for more visits, but he has a general idea of his summer plans.

"I'm trying to take an unofficial visit to UCLA this summer," Locke said. "It'd be great to get out there, see my family, and also see the campus. I really want to meet the coaching staff in person."

UCLA is one of several west coast schools recruiting him, along with Arizona State, USC, Oregon and Oregon State.

As for a decision timeline, Locke said he had an idea that he'd commit before the start of his season, but with all the offers, that's been pushed back.

"I think it's a little too early in the game to start narrowing it down now," Locke said. "I'll probably have a top five or top ten after the summer, when I'll take visits to as many of the schools as possible who have offered, and then I'll take official visits during the fall. I wanted to make a decision before school started, but I also want to see each school I'm considering to see if I can see myself there for four years."

As for his first offer, SMU, Locke said that the Mustangs will always have a place on his list.

"SMU was my first offer, so they'll always be on my list," Locke said. "They were recruiting me hard since 9th grade. I'll always have a certain amount of loyalty to them because they were first."

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