When you are a local recruit that has been committed to a school throughout your senior season and been as vocal of a recruiter as Hunter Echols has been for USC, an official visit two weeks before National Signing Day isn’t going to teach a lot of new stuff or bring a new level of enlightenment about the school.
For the Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral four-star defensive end/outside linebacker, the trip, instead, was more about being able to meet his future teammates and get to know them better before stepping on campus.
“It was fun. I had a good time with my guys, so it was always fun,” Echols said. “What I did learn is that there is a lot of family atmosphere up there. I really appreciate that. I learned Coach [Clay] Helton is really a great, great, great, great, great guy. He and the whole staff really cares about you as an individual.
“The position coaches were recruiting guys that we needed. That just lets you know how the whole staff is interested in what we've got going on at SC.”
The Trojans have hosted heavy haul of defensive linemen recruits the last two weekends, including five-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele and Washington four-star commit Marlon Tuipulotu along with Echols this weekend.
“I feel like we we've got a good shot with Marlon and Jay,” Echols said. “We're still recruiting [Georgia five-star defensive tackle] Aubrey Solomon. We'll see how everything ends up, but I already like Marlon and Jay. I did like two events with them at The Opening. You know, we're going to get our chemistry together, so if me, Marlon and Jay all play on the same line, it'll be epic and a lot of fun.”
While Echols has been vocal in his attempts to recruit other players to join the USC class, he said he took a backseat this week and let others do the recruiting. He focused on creating and solidifying relationships with his future Trojan family. While Uchenna Nwosu was designated as his host for the visit, Echols said he hung out with everyone. “I was just hanging out with everybody.”
One of the players he met up with was Porter Gustin, who Echols has said he hopes to learn everything from once he gets on campus.
“The first time I saw him he was drenched in sweat [from working out] and he gave me a handshake. I'm looking at him like, 'That dude is a robot!’ He was letting me know what it takes to be a starter and all the hard work I'm going to have to put in.”
Echols is hoping to follow a similar path as Gustin, who added more than 30 pounds to his frame from high school to his sophomore season — when he took over as the team’s top pass rusher off the edge.
“I feel like I can look like that. Got to stay in there though. Stay in that weight room.”
The next time he takes an official visit to the USC campus it will be to enroll in classes over the summer. Then he will try to live in the weight room at the McKay Center. But for now, this visit was about having fun.
The highlight of the visit for Echols was a group bowling outing where Helton was surprisingly adept: “He is actually pretty good,” Echols said.
“I had fun with the guys and I just really fit in. I just can't wait to get there and go to work.”
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