DE Austin Hooper steps back, takes time

After spending a late July weekend in South Bend, Ind., on an unofficial visit to Notre Dame, Austin Hooper felt pressured to make a decision.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound defensive end (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) worried that taking his time might result in some schools pulling their scholarship offers before he had a chance to accept one.

“I felt like some schools were telling me -- they weren’t openly saying it -- 'Do you want this offer? Do you want to commit?'” Hooper said.

The more he thought about his decision, though, he realized he needed to take his time. He wanted to wait until he had the opportunity to take his official visits. He wanted to focus on his senior season.

“I definitely want to take my officials,” Hooper said. “I want to go to some places one more time before I commit myself for four or five years.”

While he has yet to schedule any official visits, Hooper plans to take trips to Notre Dame and Washington.

“I’m going to see a few places again, be around teammates, not just the trophies, the weight room and all that,” Hooper said. “I definitely want to see Notre Dame for a second time. I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time out there. The time I got, it was very helpful. I would love to get out there for an official after the season.”

Washington defensive line coach and recruiting ace Tosh Lupoi is a De La Salle graduate and stopped by his alma mater during a recruiting trip last week. Hooper said he bumped into Lupoi and they had a quick, casual conversation.

“He has a unique perspective,” Hooper said. “Certain nights we have certain events as part of this program and when I call him, he says how was the team dinner at blah-blah-blah’s house, it’s a tradition. He definitely has a lot more insight, and he definitely understands what I’m going through.”

Hooper is looking forward to making a return trip to Seattle -- he was at Washington for the Huskies’ Rising Stars Camp in June -- where he will get to spend more time with Lupoi and the rest of program’s coaches and players.

“We’re both on same page about a lot of stuff,” Hooper said. “He’s a cool guy. I definitely want to go up there another time, check everything, don’t leave a stone unturned.”