Sunday, December 23, 2012
All I want for Christmas ...
By Mason Kelley
Austin Hooper sat in a chair and held up one hand. He rubbed his thumb over his index and middle finger, a silent sign for money.
Hooper’s Concord (Calif.) De La Salle teammate, Michael Hutchings, had just been asked to come up with the perfect Christmas gift. He could have anything. Money wouldn't be an issue.
While the USC commit tried to come up with an answer, Hooper laughed as he tried to slip in the suggestion.
When Hutchings saw what Hooper was doing, he laughed before going in a different direction.
“It would probably be some kind of electronic, not money,” Hutchings said. “I think it would be a MacBook probably. That’s what I could use, a new MacBook. I would spend most of my time on that. It works for me.”
During a recent trip around Northern California, HuskyNation asked some of the region’s top recruits what they would like for Christmas. The responses ranged from tangible objects to things they would like to have happen in the future.
From social media to school work, Hutchings spends a lot of his time on the computer, so it would be a functional toy that would make the outside linebacker’s life easier.
“I’m creative with a lot of stuff,” Hutchings said. “I like the Mac. It’s creative. I’m up to date with all the electronics.”
When Hooper heard his teammate’s idea, he was sold.
“Once he said that, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s it,’ ” he said.
The defensive end was asked if he was sure he wanted the same gift as Hutchings. He laughed.
“Fine, a better MacBook, a nicer MacBook, a newer one,” Hooper said.
Standing on a turf field at El Cerrito (Calif.) High School junior linebacker D.J. Calhoun said he would like a new pet.
“I would say a pit bull,” said Calhoun, who is on the ESPN Watch List. “I used to have two pit bulls when I was little and I love those dogs. That’s just me. I love them.”
Calhoun knows about the stigma that comes with pit bulls, but he said they are good dogs when trained properly.
“They are the sweetest dogs,” he said. “People just treat them wrong. You’ve got to treat them with love. You’ve got to treat them like they’re part of the family. You’ve just got to treat them like they’re humans and it’s all good.”
No matter what gift the recruits selected, they all had a hard time settling on their choice.
“I don’t really need anything,” 2014 quarterback Keller Chryst said. “I don’t know. Maybe a Super Bowl win for the Niners. I can’t really think of anything. I don’t need anything. I don’t really want anything.”
After taking a few more minutes to think about it, Chryst said he would definitely take a Super Bowl win for the 49ers. His father, Geep, is San Francisco’s quarterbacks coach, so “Wherever he is, I’ve got to like them. It’s not hard to like the Niners right now.”
Washington defensive line commit Elijah Qualls (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) said he feels like he has everything he needs. But he is ready to get his college career started with the Huskies.
“I wish I could be at UW right now,” he said. “That would be my Christmas present, to get to UW by break. Enroll with Troy Williams -- that would be my Christmas present. That would be an awesome Christmas.”
Like Qualls, 2014 quarterback Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) doesn’t feel like he needs anything right now. He often looks toward the future and wants good things for the people around him.
“That’s a hard question,” he said. “Anything in the world ... just good health, to stay healthy and, hopefully, the people around me have no negativity on their lives, and just have a good life.
“I don’t want to be a guy who is just for now. I want people to know me as a good guy throughout all of my life.”