- Dave Hooker, Reporter, RecruitingNation
Lavon Hooks' list of finalists has undergone another change.
The defensive tackle from Fulton (Miss.) Northeast Mississippi Community College added two schools to his list of finalists and eliminated Miami and Arizona State. Nebraska and Auburn are now back in the running to land the four-star prospect, ranked No. 15 in the ESPN Junior College 100.
"Nebraska, the coaching staff is great," the 6-foot-4, 295-pound prospect. "I know they have a good track record with putting guys in the league. It would be a great atmosphere. They've been sold out since I don't know when."
Auburn is a familiar name in Hooks' recruitment. The Tigers were once firmly in the running for Hooks, if not the lead for his services. Then, Gene Chizik was fired and Auburn slipped. Coaches there are trying to make up ground. Hooks is being recruited primarily by head coach Gene Chizik and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.
Hooks said Auburn was his favorite team growing up. He also sees potential immediate playing time as the Tigers finished the 2012 season with a 3-9 record and were 0-8 in the SEC.
"It's been my favorite school for a while," Hooks said. "I know I would love to play for them."
Hooks' recruitment has been full of twists and turns. He was scheduled to visit Auburn last weekend. He then said he'd visit Miami before finally visiting Washington.
"I felt like it would have been a better business choice," Hooks said of the decision to go northwest instead of southeast. "If I would never make it in football, a lot of major corporations are out there. I know I could network with people there and get a job after football."
Nearby Mississippi State and Ole Miss have proximity on their side. When asked what he liked about the two SEC programs, Hooks said, "Both of them have a good chance where I could play immediately. It's kind of home. I've been in Mississippi for two years now. I've gotten accustomed to this way of life."
Hooks is originally from Atlanta. When asked what he specifically liked about Mississippi State, he said the Bulldogs' history of sending defensive linemen to the NFL most stood out. As for Ole Miss, Hooks said, "There's just straight love. They're like family there."
Hooks said he plans to sign his scholarship papers tomorrow but also is considering waiting until after Wednesday, the first day junior college prospects can sign with four-year colleges. Hooks said he'd like to see which prospects sign with which schools before making his decision. Clearly, the decision is weighing on him.
"I added two [schools] because I wasn't sure," Hooks said. "I still keep thinking about, 'What if?' That's why kept them in there."