Hooker: "They Had My Heart"

Hooker: "They Had My Heart"

Deep Run (NC) South Lenoir standout defensive tackle K'Hadree Hooker was telling a big secret when he announced his decision to attend NC State last Friday. He had already committed to the Wolfpack coaches over two weeks ago.

Deep Run (NC) South Lenoir standout defensive tackle K'Hadree Hooker was telling a big secret when he announced his decision to attend NC State last Friday. He had already committed to the Wolfpack coaches over two weeks ago.

"I actually committed about two weeks ago, but it came down to Georgia Tech and [NC] State," said Hooker. "I talked to my family and didn't know if I wanted to go to Georgia Tech or State, but I stayed true to myself."

Georgia Tech assistant Andy McCollum, who previously coached at NC State, was the lead recruiter for the Yellow Jackets and his pursuit of Hooker kept Tech in the mix.

"Georgia Tech, they made a late push," Hooker stated. "They were in it from the beginning... I was thinking about playing football in the heart of Atlanta. I talked to coach McCollum after I committed to State, and he said you sign in February for a reason. They are going to still recruit me hard."

Hooker said his relationship with the Wolfpack coaches was the deciding factor. NC State was the first school to offer Hooker a scholarship and recruited him hard ever since the end of his freshman season.

"The coaching staff is great," he said. "Coach O'Brien and his staff have done a good job at NC State... they are taking the program to the top. They had my heart. At the end of day, that is the place I want to leave a legacy."

Hooker projects as a full qualifier and will be at NC State next summer. He already has a special bond with Keith Willis, his position coach, and from their discussions Hooker knows he needs to be ready to play right away.

"Me and Coach Willis, we're tight," said Hooker. "That speaks for itself. I'm ready to get to Raleigh and have coach help me get better.

"Coach O'Brien and coach Willis told me that when I got there in the summer of 2012 I better be ready to work. There isn't any redshirting me because they need me on the field. I'll be ready."

What type of a player is NC State getting in Hooker? The 6-foot-1, 295-pounder is arguably the top true defensive tackle in the state. He has been timed as low as 5.02 in the 40-yard dash and has benched 185 pounds 30 times.

His 4.67 pro shuttle illustrates the impressive lateral quickness he possesses, and his explosion off the line enabled him to be named the Kinston Free Press Defensive Player of the Year after totaling 79 tackles, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles, five blocked kicks, and 15 quarterback hurries in 2010.

Hooker picked NC State over several offers from programs such as Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Auburn, North Carolina, Clemson, ECU, Louisville, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt among others. He narrowed his list to NC State, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech before picking the Wolfpack.

With his decision behind him, Hooker says that he is focused on his senior season, but will also spend some time recruiting for the Wolfpack.

"I'm recruiting hard for my school," he stated. "They've already got a great recruiting class, but I'm hoping to make it even better. My main target right now is Todd Gurley. We're great friends... he already knows I'm going to State.

"With my senior year, I want us to finish strong. I want to help take my team back to the playoffs. We want to win a lot of games."

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