Will WSU look to hardscrabble RCC 'backer?

THE COUGS HAVE a trio of Riverside City College players coming in their 2015 class and while Signing Day 2016 is a long ways off, it’s not too early to take notice of a middle linebacker on their roster, his coach tells Cougfan.com. His height (to this point) has kept the big schools from jumping in with both feet, but A.J. Hotchkins is about to blow up, says RCC's defensive coordinator.

“We have a middle linebacker named A.J. Hotchkins… he is going to have to come back for a second year,” James Kuk, Riverside DC and recruiting coordinator tells Cougfan.com. “He didn’t get a lot of looks this year because he’s a 5-10, 235-pound linebacker. 'Too small,' according to everybody else.

But here’s a kid… we did our homework on, he started every game for us… and he was just voted All-American by the JC coaches in the state... And I'd say he's more like 5-11, 235.”

Hotchkins, originally out of Tigard, Ore., pledged Wyoming coming out of high school before going the JC route. This past season as a freshman, he led Riverside with 101 tackles, was named first-team all-conference, all-state and the SCFCA Defensive MVP in addition to the All-America designation.

Washington State has had a number of linebackers over the years who didn’t have prototypical height or other measurables, but who went on to become stars – Steve Gleason and Will Derting are but two examples.

Hotchkins’ tape is perhaps most reminiscent of another former Cougar middle linebacker, one who came from the JC ranks as well...

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Cougfan.com Managing Editor Emeritus John Witter says if not for his short Wazzu stint, Don Jackson (2002-2003) would today be considered among the crimson linebacker greats. So for those who recall Jackson’s exploits (particularly in ’03) does this look familiar?

“I think a lot of times we get caught up in the height, weight and 40 times,” says Kuk. “He’s a product of the Northwest and so many of those kids get overlooked… I know he’s going to blow up.”

Kuk said Hotchkins has seen a flurry of 1-AA offers of late.

“The big ones just don’t know about him yet,” said Kuk. “Everyone is looking at that 5-10 (5-11), and it’s just a matter of getting enough eyes on him.

“He was my defensive captain, the heart and soul of my defense, made all my calls.. He’s got a bright future.”

Hotchkins has previously been reported as a member of the 2015 class but Kuk says he’ll return to Riverside this coming year and be a member of the 2016 class, which would give him 3-to-play-2 starting in 2016.

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