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December 30, 2012
SAN ANTONIO -- Louisville (Ky.) Trinity four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher kicked off an intense five-plus weeks when he arrived Sunday for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. A string of official visits will follow his appearance in Saturday's game.
"I'm starting my grand tour the week after the game," Hatcher said. "The week after the game, I go to UK. Then I go to SC, fly to Florida and finish it off at UofL."
Although Kentucky, Florida and Louisville will get their opportunities to sway Hatcher from the USC commitment he made over the summer, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound prospect is not giving them a good chance of pulling off the feat.
"My commitment is my word, and my word is my bond," Hatcher said. "I feel that USC is the best place for me to continue to develop my skills and possibly go to the next level."
Hatcher decided to take three additional official visits to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be recruited to college and because of the relationships he made with other coaches during the process. One of those coaches was new Kentucky head man Mark Stoops.
"I know Coach Stoops is a great guy, and his track record speaks for itself for what he did down at Florida State," Hatcher said.
Louisville is the hometown school and a finalist for his teammate, four-star wide receiver James Quick. It is also a favorite of a major influence in Hatcher's life.
"My mom's pulling UofL real big, but she's going to support me wherever I go," Hatcher said. "I feel UofL has guys and doesn't need defensive guys like USC does."
Florida was one of Hatcher's finalists in the summer before he made the decision for USC, and it recently came back into the picture.
"I had interest in Florida, but Florida would recruit me then back off, recruit me then back off. ? So we played that game," he said. "[The official visit] just happened, I guess."
After talking about each of the schools he will visit, though, Hatcher made sure to throw in, "I'm still solid on my USC commit."
The USC coaches had asked their commits who were taking official visits to other schools to make their visit to Los Angeles the last of the process, but that did not work out in Hatcher's case.
"We had such a demanding season; I just didn't have any time to do officials during the season," he said. "USC wanted to be my last official visit, but it just didn't work out that way, and they were understanding. I am glad they are understanding."
Hatcher is joined by Quick and Trinity head coach Bob Beatty -- who is coaching the East team -- at this week's Army Bowl. He expects their performance in San Antonio will earn respect for their home state.
"My goal coming into this week is to show that Kentucky is not just a basketball state," Hatcher said. "Football is played in Kentucky and played very well."