Growing up a Reggie Bush fan, Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral four-star defensive lineman Hunter Echols was always interested in USC, but after committing to UCLA earlier this month, he didn’t know if the interest would be reciprocal.
Despite Echols’ commitment to their crosstown rivals, the Trojans invited him for their junior day event and gave him an opportunity to explore the USC campus.
“Going to USC today was real cool. They got nice facilities, nice weight room, nice strength and conditioning coaches,” the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Echols said. “USC is a real, real, real good…It was a real good visit today.”
California’s No. 2 rated defensive end was particularly enamored with new USC defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze. He felt he was able to relate to the adversity Udeze overcame in high school to become a star at USC and eventually be a first round draft pick.
“He’s a real cool coach and he was vibing with me, vibing with me and my family and with other defensive linemen there. He went through a lot of adversity himself, just like I go through.”
“People always telling you that you’ll never make it because I wasn’t always the fastest. I wasn’t always the biggest person. People are always talking down. A lot of hatred. A lot of people not trying to see you make it out, so stuff like that.
“He went through a lot of adversity being a one-star recruit and people not knowing who he was. I just feel like I have a connection with people always doubting me and people always doubting him, so it was fun to meet him.”
Despite Echols’ current allegiance, Udeze and the rest of the USC coaching staff didn’t try to badmouth UCLA and negative recruit against the Bruins, which Echols appreciated. Instead the Trojans’ staff was focused on Echols taking his time and making the right decision for himself.
“They were just telling me in my recruitment to give everybody a chance and not just USC, but don’t try to rush into anything,” he said. “They want just the best opportunity for me. They just want me to take my time with the recruitment process and they said ‘Maybe you can come here.’ They just joked around me, but nothing negative about any other school.”
Part of the reason he said he committed to UCLA was head coach Jim Mora told him to have fun with the recruiting process and was willing to let him take trips to other schools. So Echols has a plan for his five official visits that includes both local schools.
“I’m going to take all five I think. I know for sure I’m going to take USC. Since I’m committed to UCLA, I might as well just go take my visit to UCLA and then I have three special out-of-state visits that I want to take. As of right now, I don’t know who those schools are going to be, but I know I’m going to take some out-of-state visits.”