Klein (Texas) Oak has been one of the top programs in the Houston area over the past decade. The Panthers usually make a deep run in the Class 5A playoffs and they always seem to have quite a few Division I recruits on their roster.
With three prospects committed to Big 12 schools in the class of 2011, colleges have made sure to make their way by the high school. Once there, several juniors grabbed their attention as well. One of them is outside linebacker A.J. Hilliard, who says that three schools have shown the most interest.
"I've been getting a lot of attention from Oklahoma State, Purdue and Texas A&M," the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hilliard said. "I've talked to my recruiter, [db]Robert Gillespie[/db], from Oklahoma State. He's at West Virginia now, though. The defensive coordinator for A&M, he's come down to look at me a few times. One of Purdue's coaches came down here too."
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Hilliard has yet to receive his first offer but it could come soon.
"Those are the three schools that are recruiting me the hardest," he said. "They told me they were starting to get serious (about offering). I need to send them my junior highlight tape. I'm putting that together right now."
Hilliard says he has a completely open mind at the moment and is considering all schools equally. He does admit to growing up a favorite of a pair of programs, though.
"I grew up in Dallas so I was a big TCU fan," he said. "My brother played for Notre Dame so I'm a big Notre Dame fan too. My brother is (defensive tackle) Cedric Hilliard. He played there from '99 to '03."
Though the Fighting Irish have an in with the family legacy, they have yet to start recruiting the athletic defender.
"I've gotten a couple letters from TCU, but nothing too serious yet," Hilliard said. "I haven't gotten anything from Notre Dame. My brother doesn't really talk them up. He leaves me to my own decision but he's told me about the good things while he was there."
Hilliard has two teammates in Rivals250 prospects Max Stevenson and Nathan Hughes that are committed to Oklahoma. He says he is hearing from the Sooners as well.
"I've gotten some letters from them," he said. "They tell me they're interested. They haven't sent a coach down yet but I'm getting a lot of stuff from them."
Hilliard finished his junior season with 101 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.