LOS ANGELES -- Receivers hardly found any open space against Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) on Sunday at the Nike Football Training Camp, so it was only fitting that a strong showing earned the fast-rising cornerback an invite to The Opening this summer.
Hale has scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Nebraska and Washington State, but that list figures to grow in the upcoming evaluation period.
“I was shocked when I got the invite,” Hale said. “I thought there were a couple of defensive backs that also stood out. I went out there without too much pressure and I performed well.”
In the days leading up to the event, Hale made some recruiting noise by pegging Arizona and Cal, along with local favorite USC, as his early leaders.
“I like Cal and Arizona because they both have new coaching staffs. They’re going to be great and do something different,” he said. “At Arizona the coaches are rebuilding and changing things. That’s exciting. As for Cal, that’s a place where if football doesn’t work out, I can focus on my future by getting a great degree.”
Oregon and UCLA were the initial frontrunners in the race for Hale, but the 5-foot-10, 170-pound corner said the two Pac-12 schools aren’t in the conversation at this point.
"I talked to De'Anthony (Thomas) today and the Oregon defensive backs coach just wants to make sure I'm actually 5-10 before they offer me. It’s all good though. And with UCLA, coach Meat (Demetrice Martin) is pushing for me to get offered," Hale said. "I'm really not on those schools right now. I understand how this recruiting thing works now and I have to be serious about the schools that are serious about me. UCLA recently offered two corners so I know where they stand.”
Hale’s cousin, Jonas Mouton, played at Michigan a few years ago, so Hale is hopeful the Wolverines become more involved in his recruitment.
Aside from attending The Opening this offseason, Hale also plans to attend Cal’s junior day later this month, take unofficial visits to Arizona and Arizona State, and make it to USC’s spring game.