Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines may only be a sophomore, but he's already hearing from schools not only in the Midwest, but around the country. At 6'2", 265 pounds, Hines already has great size for a high schooler, and he's garnering interest from schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oregon, Boston College, and others. I had the chance to speak with the class of 2014 prospect this week, and Brandon gave me some insight into his recruitment, including some potential good news forthcoming from the Wolverines:
ACE: You said you had some exciting news. What's happening on that front?
BRANDON: Basically, I made a new highlight tape, because I broke my hand at the beginning of the season—I had a broken hand for six games, having the club kind of slowed me down. I finally got [tape of] all the games without the club and I made a highlight tape from that, and I think I performed a lot better without that club, and a bunch of colleges seem to think so too. I decided to send that film out, and one of the first coaches I decided to reach out to was Coach Mattison from Michigan, and after I sent him my film I got some really good feedback from him.
ACE: What did Coach Mattison tell you about your film?
BRANDON: I first called him and told him the day before I sent him a text asking him if he got the tape and he said he did. He had a player in his office, so he had the player find my film for him and he told me to call him back in 30 minutes. 30 minutes passes over after I'm done lifting and I gave him a call back. Basically, to my surprise, he said they were extremely impressed and they definitely want me there. I actually talked to him about my film for a little bit and we got to know each other, and he asked me if I had any offers. As of right now, I don't have any offers, but a couple schools have been hinting and when I make my trips out to those schools I'm pretty sure I'll pull out an offer.
When I was talking to [Coach Mattison] he told me he's not going to offer a scholarship over the phone, so he asked me when I was available to come to the school. He said they're going to be on their spring break [soon], but they're going to be done in early March and that's when he wants me to come out there and watch a spring practice and meet the head coach. I'm definitely looking forward to making a visit to Ann Arbor and see what Michigan has to offer.
ACE: Have you made any other visits so far?
BRANDON: Most of my visits are going to take place now. I've been to Wisconsin twice, Michigan State, and NIU, and I also went to Boston College for their junior day. Most of my big-time visits will be taking place from this week up until the end of March, that's when I'm going to be taking my big-time visits to really good schools. First I went up to Wisconsin this [past] weekend for their junior day, then the next weekend I'm heading down to Illinois—I talked to the coach there, Coach Butkus from Illinois, and he's definitely interested, he loved my film, so I'm hoping to get some good news from them. The week after that I think I'm going to be heading down to Arkansas for their junior day, and then the week after that I'll be at Michigan State, then the week after that I'll be at Michigan.
ACE: Are there any other schools have been talking to?
BRANDON: Tennessee—I sent them my film, and that's where my parents are from, so I've got some ties there—Oregon State got my film and they really liked it, and Boston College. A lot of schools are seeing my film. Also Oklahoma State I've been reaching out to and I plan to hear from them in the next couple of days. Then there are schools that have mailed me, schools like Kansas State, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin, Minnesota, there's a long list of schools. That's what I can think of off the top, but those are some of the schools, and then a lot of other Big Ten programs have been sending me mail to the extent that they can.
Things are going at a steady pace but I definitely think if in these next couple weeks I can pick up an offer it's going to pick up a lot more. I also didn't get to send out my film to all the coaches I wanted to, so I feel that once I get that out I'll definitely be in a good position, so it's only good things to come from now on.
ACE: Being just a sophomore and getting this type of attention, what's it like for you? How are you handling it right now?
BRANDON: You know, it's actually nothing new to me at all. I've known about the recruiting process and followed most of it since I was in eighth grade. I can go back and name All-Americans from the U.S. Army game when I was in eighth grade. It's nothing new to me. I've been focused on getting a scholarship for a long time, I think I've prepared myself for it. I know what it's going to be like, I know it's going to get hectic, I know I'm going to get a lot of mail. I know the first and second days I'm able to get recruited, exactly what to expect. I've talked to a lot of other high-caliber players—I talk to [2013 TX recruit] Jake Raulerson, he's a really good guy. I've talked to Kyle Bosch a few times. I talk to [2013 Brookfield, WI DE] Chikwe Obasih, from my state, a lot of other good players. They give me advice and tell me what it's like from time to time, so it's definitely something that I'm prepared for, and I'm really ready to get these offers and hopefully narrow down my choices soon.
ACE: What type of advice are those guys giving you?
BRANDON: When I was a freshman, I thought I needed to get to the U.S. Army combine, gotta get to this combine, this combine, this combine; I went to those combines, did really well, got MVPs at most of them. Then I actually talked to Kyle Bosch about it, and he was like, "You know what man, straight up, they're a waste of money," besides the Army combine and stuff like that. He told me that you've got to get to the college camps, that's what you've gotta do, see the coaches one-on-one and just impress them that way, because it's better to see them first-hand than third-party. Jake Raulerson, he's really religious, a really good guy. That's where I get most of my faith advice from, I guess you could say. I follow that example, he's a really good guy, and he's strong in his faith which is extremely good. It's a lot of different stuff coming from different people, but I definitely appreciate all of it and it helps me.
ACE: When you head out to these schools, what specifically are you looking for? I know it's a long way off, but what's going to come into play when you're trying to pick a college?
BRANDON: School major are definitely a big key for me right now. I'm trying to see what a program is going to be like when I get there. I want to talk to a lot of the players, not just the star players but everyone, like when I went to Wisconsin I talked to Derek Watt, who I threw shot against, I talked to Darius Feaster, who went to my school, and I talked to a lot of other players who aren't the biggest big-time players but will give me the real feedback of the school. Then I'm definitely looking at the campus and the area, that's a big thing for me. I'm from a big city, Milwaukee is a pretty big city. I definitely need someplace where it's kinda populated, a big fan base for a school would be a good thing for me.
Also, the coaching staff, I have to have a coaching staff that pushes people. The coaching staff I'm with at my high school right now, I moved here [to Homestead], and they're tremendous. They're on you all the time no matter what. They will stay on you, they're going to push you, and they're going to push you past your limits. That's something I'm definitely looking for. Today I had a really tough workout with one of our coaches who's one of the to speed trainers in the state, so I'm definitely looking for some high-caliber coaches.
ACE: Looking back on your sophomore year, I know you said you were hurt for a little bit there, but how do you think you played overall?
BRANDON: Coming in sophomore year, I was nervous, really nervous. I guess you'd say my first three games at Homestead I was really nervous, because it's been a really good program, like 10-1 and 11-1. It's a lot to live up to, to play at that level. With the injury I think I performed pretty well. I think when I got to the fifth game I just built a lot of confidence, the team saw a lot of confidence with me and I exceeded [expectations] from there. I pulled in 42 tackles and six sacks. I think I pulled in some pretty good numbers and it was a solid overall season. But I think I'm definitely looking to possibly get to a state title next year. I think we have a lot of good players and we can definitely pull it off if we all work together.
ACE: What would you say your biggest strengths are as a player, and what are you trying to work on to improve for next year and to ultimately earn those scholarships?
BRANDON: I think I'm a good technical player. You see a bit more a technical side to me as opposed to a bull-rush type style. I do a lot of swim moves. I think that's my knack, I have a knack for playing like a skinny person when it comes to using moves. My key strength is definitely my strength—I think I'm pretty advanced with my strength, I think I bench 300 and I squad 405, so I think that's definitely an advantage for me. The thing I want to work on next season is my speed. I want to become a fast player. Being from the South, I think that's something I definitely have to live up to is my speed. I think if I cut a little bit of unnecessary weight I'll be a pretty good player, and that's definitely what I want to be known as coming into my junior year, is more speed than strength.
ACE: Going away from the football field, what's one thing—like a hobby or something—that you like doing that has nothing to do with sports that you'd like people to know about you?
BRANDON: This is so far-fetched from what you'd think. I collect sneakers. That's an odd hobby but I'm really into sneakers and clothing. Besides football, you'll probably catch me online looking at some new shoes. That sounded weird, but...
ACE: My brother is kind of a sneakerhead, so I know where you're coming from. Is there a specific shoe that you're trying to look out for? I know there's some Jordans that are kind of the holy grail, but is there a specific shoe that you're trying to look out for?
BRANDON: I'm not tied to Jordans, but I'm definitely trying to get the Olympic 6s when they come out in July. July is when my birthday is, so they'll be pretty easy to come by. We have a coach at our school, a basketball coach, who's pretty crazy for his sneakers and is actually known for his sneakers. I think he has over 900 shoes, so he's definitely giving me some advice and helping me improve my sneaker game. His name is Brandon Maddox, he's a good guy.
ACE: Man, 900, that's nuts. How many do you have?
BRANDON: I have 45 pairs. I'll buy shoes that I'll wear to school, and then I have my shoes that I just don't touch. I'll just let them sit there, then maybe on a rare occasion like when I go to a formal dinner I'll wear those shoes out. It gets pretty intense. I have a big sneaker collection for my age. Being 15 I can't even get a job, so I don't have the biggest advantage.