The second major scrimmage of the spring for USC Saturday attracted another group of prospects, and among the attendees was DE AJ Hoffler (6-5 245) of Atlanta. The visit was Hoffler’s first with the Gamecocks. He had sort of a preconceived notion about the program and school going into the visit, but all that changed by the time he left the campus.
“It was way better than what I thought it was going to be,” Hoffler said. “I had never seen the facilities. I’ve been to Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State. They are probably right there with them, if not better than some of them in certain aspects. That was the nicest business school I’ve ever seen. And then, a great coaching staff. I watched the whole scrimmage, and then we did a campus tour and facility tour. That was up there as one of my best visits. I was very impressed with South Carolina. It was a very good visit for me in my opinion.”
Hoffler added that the Gamecocks have gone from outsiders to insiders with him regarding his recruiting.
“To be honest, going in I was thinking I will visit South Carolina and I’m not sure if after the visit I’ll be still considering them,” Hoffler said. “After today, I might consider them pretty heavily for an official visit.”
Part of the visit included meetings with head coach Shane Beamer and defensive ends coach Sterling Lucas. Each visit had a different message from the coach to Hoffler.
“When I met with Coach Beamer, it wasn’t so much talking about football, he was talking about what’s in front of the program, how good they can be, especially if they get better players in,” Hoffler said. “When I talked with Coach Lucas, that’s when I talked more about football. He talked about my film and what drills he does with his guys to help them develop coming from the NFL. He likes my pass rush ability. I’m almost as big as most of their guys height-wise and lower body-wise. I’m just as big as them already, so if I develop, I could play early. He was saying he liked my pass rush, my effort and my motor.”
Hoffler returned to Atlanta after his day in Columbia. Monday he will head up I-85 for the ninety-minute trip to Clemson, a visit he originally planned to make Friday. It will be his second visit with the Tigers, the first coming about a month ago.
“They are recruiting me pretty hard and are probably in my top two schools right now,” Hoffler said. “I hear from them probably every two to three days, the DC, head coach, D-end coach. They are recruiting me pretty hard.”
Hoffler added there are several aspects of the Clemson program that stand out to him.
“The people there, the family vibe,” he said. “It’s not like any other place in the country. The facilities, academics. The biggest thing is probably the people. Football is really good, but that’s not really the main thing. It’s like the people, the academics, coaches and coaching stability. I know aside from this year, they don’t really lose too many coaches, so that’s another thing.”
Hoffler said Clemson and Ohio State would stand as his top two at this point. He does not have a definite decision date in mind, though he’d like to make his commitment prior to his birthday which is August 9th.
Hoffler has also visited Ohio State, Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The only other visit he has planned right now is to Kansas State for the spring game. His brother plays for the Wildcats. He also has offers from Mississippi State, Houston, Minnesota, Florida State, Cincinnati, Louisville and several others.
Last season Hoffler totaled 52 tackles with 12 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.