Damar Hamlin, the No. 17 cornerback in the nation, said Penn State, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Ohio State make up his top four, but Clemson and UCLA are also in the mix ,and in contention for his final official visit.
After returning from a weekend official visit to Notre Dame, the Pittsburgh Central Catholic standout said three others are in line for visits.
"Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame; that’s my top four," Hamlin said. "I’m going to take (official visits) to Pitt, Penn State and Ohio State, but I’m not sure about my last one."
Hamlin does not have dates for the official visits yet, and it could depend on how deep into the playoffs Central Catholic advances as to when and where his visits take him.
However, Hamlin has a baseline for comparison after spending the weekend at Notre Dame, which beat rival USC.
"My big thing was what going to Notre Dame could do for me as in graduating from there and getting that degree," Hamlin said. "It means I could be set and graduate and make a lot of money. It was a great game. It was exciting. I was watching the corners from both teams. I saw a lot of improvement from the spring because I was there watching them in the spring."
Pitt is making headway with recruits in western Pennsylvania, and the Panthers rise under coach Pat Narduzzi and their return to the national rankings are on Hamlin's mind.
"Coach Narduzzi is turning everything around down there," Hamlin said. "They’re op 25 right now. They are just going upward. Plus, it’s my home town, my home school."
The homey feel is something Hamlin is seeking in a school, and Penn State has it as well. Assistant coach Terry Smith, who recruits western Pennsylvania, has a strong relationship with Hamlin.
"Their coaches make you feel like it’s home," Hamlin said. "I feel like if I went up there, I would never get homesick. The coaches give me a home feeling, a family feeling, and it’s everything you want out of a college. It’s the fans, a nice school, everything."
Ohio State's success on the field is something Hamlin is acutely aware of, and how it could benefit him.
"I feel like coach (Kerry) Coombs, coach (Chris) Ash and coach (Luke) Fickel are all really good coaches," Hamlin said. "They could really develop me to be the best player I could be. I would also get a chance to win a national championship."
On the other side of the country sits UCLA, which first earned an "in" with Hamlin because of defensive coordinator Tom Bradley's ties to the region. Since then, though, Hamlin forged a relationship with Bruins defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin.
"I feel like I have a really good relationship with the db coach, and he could develop me to be a really good player," Hamlin said. "I know it’s a very good school."
Hamlin added he does not think he will let his decision go until close to signing day, but he does want to make his official visits.