With his decision drawing closer, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher continues to winnow his list of scholarship offers. With a day left until his announcement, just three teams remain in the hunt for the nation's No. 9 weakside defensive end.
Hatcher will be surrounded by his mother and more than three dozen of his family members when he announces his decision Friday at 7 p.m. ET in a press conference at the Hyatt Regency in Louisville. The event will be streamed LIVE exclusively on Rivals.com.
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Hatcher had previously narrowed his list down to four schools in recent weeks - Florida, Louisville, Tennessee and USC - but one of those schools has dropped out ahead of his Friday announcement.
"I lost contact with Florida right after The Opening, and it really wasn't until I got back from The Opening when I made up my mind that I wanted to commit before the season," Hatcher said. "So, my three schools are Tennessee, USC and U of L."
The appearance of Louisville in Hatcher's final group is certainly no surprise. The hometown Cardinals were one of the first two teams to offer him a scholarship after his sophomore season.
"It is my hometown, and I feel they have a great, young coaching staff," Hatcher said. "They are going to be on the rise because they are getting guys in that can ball."
Tennessee was also one of Hatcher's earliest offers and is a program he is intimately familiar with.
"I think Tennessee would be the school I visited most," Hatcher said. "I visited Tennessee more than I did U of L. I've always liked Tennessee's academics. My whole life I wanted to do something with animal science, and they have their own med school on UT's campus."
The team that has made the biggest rise on Hatcher's list in the recent months to land among the Kentucky native's final three is USC.
"With USC, I know they are just coming off probation and have one more year left with the [reduced] number of scholarships they are allowed to give out," Hatcher said. "They are also on the rise and had a good team last year with a lot of guys coming back. They are in the Pac-12, which is a passing league, and as a defensive end will give me the most opportunities as far as sacks."
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Hatcher is a little undersized for the defensive end position, but each of the final three schools on his list could look to utilize his speed off the edge in a hybrid role that will allow him to rush the passer and also drop back as a linebacker from time to time.
Originally, Hatcher planned to make his decision following his senior season, but the four-star defensive end said he is definitely ready to finish this process, and he would have not arrived at this point in his football career without the help of his mother.
"My mom, she can be hard to deal with at times, but she has really been the rock of my recruiting," Hatcher said. "She really did a lot during this whole recruitment so that I could do what I needed to do."
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