At this stage, 2014 defensive end Qualen Cunningham wants to keep a tight lid on his recruitment. He wants to keep things wide open. He wants to avoid giving hints on what he's thinking. He'd like to make this a guessing game of sorts. Problem is, he's not very good it.
Before he starts with the every-team-is-equal talk and the other clichés that run amuck during junior-year recruitment, he replaces his football helmet with what seems to be a brand new hat.
The logo on the front? Texas A&M's. When he's asked about his choice of headwear, he knows he's been found out. The hat isn't just about the look. There's meaning here. Cunningham reluctantly admits that much, even if he tries to downplay it.
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"Should you read into the hat? I don't know," he says. "Should you? I really don't know. I just know A&M is a big school and they've been showing me a lot of love."
And so the maroon-and-white ball cap remains. It's turned backwards as the budding Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton star discusses his six scholarship offers from schools such as A&M, Tennessee, Arizona State and Nebraska.
Cunningham says he's in closest contact with coaches from Arizona State, Texas A&M and Washington. He also points out that has not made a single unofficial visit yet.
"I think I'm going to start taking those trips all over the summer," he said. When asked if he has a list of campuses he'd like to visit already in mind, he seems poised to deliver an answer. Then, his grandmother, now standing by his side, chimes into the conversation.
"He does, but he's not sharing that yet," she says with a smile.
Cunningham nods as if to say "fair enough." From there, the conversation meanders. The 225-pound junior touches on what he calls a "tight bond" with the Aggies' coaching staff and discusses the impression the Sun Devils' hot start has made.
"They've been playing a lot better, and we have some guys from my school that are there doing big things," Cunningham said. "I think a lot of kids might think about going there now because they have the new coach and are doing what they set out to do. Being a hometown hero doesn't sound too shabby. It doesn't sound too bad."
He says he prefers Arizona State to Arizona, but staying in-state isn't something he views as vital. And as for his family's take on the situation; on that topic, grandma interjects again.
"Wherever he goes, I'm going with him," she says. "We've already discussed that."