Monday, January 21, 2013
Texas visit an eye-opener for OL Hammad
By Max Olson
Back when Texas first reached out to Rami Hammad, his high school coach offered some simple advice: If they offer, you better take a visit.
By Sunday, the Irving, Texas, offensive lineman certainly understood why Aaron De La Torre said that. The visit left such a strong impression that the three-star recruit decided it was time to decommit from Baylor.
Three-star lineman Rami Hammad has narrowed down his list to Texas, Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma.
“I loved it. I loved the coaches, the facilities, love the town, love the players, everything,” he said.
A 6-foot-5, 314-pound guard prospect with more college options now than he’d ever dreamed of, Hammad doesn’t need much time to reach his new decision. He plans to make his announcement on Wednesday.
From his more than 50 offers, he's down to four schools: Texas, Oklahoma, TCU and, yes, Baylor. Hammad hasn’t taken official visits to Oklahoma or TCU, and he doesn’t plan to before deciding.
If Hammad does commit to Texas on Wedneday, it’ll be because of an official visit that wowed him. Before the visit, though, came the offer he’d long coveted.
Hammad received his scholarship offer in a phone call Tuesday night. Texas’ coaches asked him to keep quiet about it out of respect for his Baylor pledge, but it was a big deal to Hammad. He changed his visit plans and was glad he spent 48 hours in Austin.
“It’s just a huge blessing,” he said. “You look at that school and how many O-linemen they offer and how many they do actually get, I mean, it’s ridiculous. They’ve offered like 10 guys in the nation. Now I’m one of those guys. They offer the top guys in the nation, and that means a lot to me.”
For some reason, though, he’d did not know what to expect when it came to finally meeting coach Mack Brown.
“I thought he was a strict coach and somebody who was kind of mean. But Mack Brown is the nicest guy ever. Like, really nice,” Hammad said. “Coach [Stacy] Searels is a coach with high expectations, and he’s going to have a solid class. They’re going to have the best O-line in the nation if I go there.”
Hammad said Texas is recruiting him to play right guard and right tackle. If the Longhorns land juco tackle Desmond Harrison on Monday and Hammad on Wednesday, they’ll have verbal pledges from five offensive linemen, including early enrollee Jake Raulerson.
That class gives Hammad confidence that Texas can do big things during his college years if that’s where he ends up. Searels made it clear during the visit that Hammad is a priority to finish out the class.
“He told me yesterday I was one of the best guys he’s recruited this year and wish he would’ve got me earlier,” Hammad said. “He said everything happens for a reason.”
Hammad’s host during the weekend was his coach’s son, Texas fullback Alex De La Torre. He enjoyed hanging out with fellow official visitor Erik Huhn and meeting the players and getting a full tour of the campus and facilities. Academics are a big factor for Hammad, and he was impressed by the goals UT had in place for him.
By the time it was all over, Hammad knew he was ready to make a difficult phone call to Baylor coach Art Briles.
“It was really hard -- really, really hard,” he said. “I told Art Briles I respect him. They were my first offer and I fell in love with them. He said I love you, I think you’ll be a first-rounder, I wish you luck wherever you go and I think you’re a great person. He took it the right way. I respected that.”
Why didn’t Hammad leave town as a Texas commit? He wants to take a few days to think things over. By Wednesday, he’ll be ready to make his next big move.
After this weekend, Hammad couldn’t be more pleased about what’s next for his future.
“I’ve got a top four, and they’re all still recruiting me,” he said. “I’m going to let it sink in and announce Wednesday for sure so that I can concentrate on school. But I’m really excited.”