The pressure is starting to get to Austin Hooper (Concord, Calif./De La Salle).
As the 6-foot-4½, 245-pound defensive end sees college programs filling up their 2013 recruiting classes, he feels compelled to make a decision sooner than he originally planned.
“The unofficial has become the new official,” Hooper said. “Spots are filling up really fast at a lot of the programs I’m looking at, so the pressure to make a decision is definitely there.”
Hooper spent the weekend in South Bend, Ind., returning Sunday from a visit to Notre Dame.
“I enjoyed touring the campus, seeing the facilities, meeting the players,” he said. “It was definitely a good experience.”
He planned to sit down with his parents and go over his options over dinner Monday night. In addition to the Irish, Hooper said he is considering Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Washington and Northwestern. Of the universities high on his list, Oregon is the only one he has yet to visit.
“It’s kind of hard to commit yourself to a place you have only seen one time, knowing if you don’t your spot’s gone,” he said. “There are a lot of good schools out there, but I can’t afford to take 20 different trips.”
Hooper was in Seattle in late June for Washington’s Rising Stars Camp, and while it was a short trip, he said he learned a lot from defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi.
“He’s a great coach,” Hooper said. “I worked with him on pass rush stuff. In 15 minutes I learned so much I feel that can really benefit me and help me for my senior season. I can’t even imagine how it would be to have four years with his instruction.
“But I’ve only been up there one time. I don’t know. I don’t even have the words right now. So many schools are starting to say, ‘Hey, we’re starting to get our spots filled.’ I thought UW was a great place, but I don’t know right now. I have no clue.”
At this point, the only thing Hooper said he was certain about is the need to make a decision sooner than he expected.
“I guess that decision is coming up,” he said. “I can’t tell you if it’s going to be two days or two months. I’m definitely starting to narrow it down.”