SHELBY, N.C. Dax Hollifield has a message for any prospect that will go through the recruiting process anytime soon.
“Get it done early,” Hollifield told The State on Monday. “It’s been fun, but I want to pull my hair out right now.”
Needless to say, it has been a busy and stressful couple of weeks for the Shelby (N.C.) linebacker as he prepares to sign with a college on Wednesday.
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Hollifield was down to a final three of North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Stanford until a few weeks ago when Clemson and Alabama, the past two national champions, came back into the picture.
Coaches from Clemson, UNC, Virginia Tech, Stanford and Alabama came to see Hollifield last week, and he has narrowed his decision down to four schools, removing Alabama from the equation.
He will decide between Clemson, UNC, Virginia Tech and Stanford at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the auditorium at his school.
Even after being told it was out of the picture, Alabama has not given up.
“They haven’t taken ‘no’ for an answer once. (My recruiter) texted me yesterday and was like, ‘Dax, I hope that we’re still in it. If we’re not just let me know.’ I said, ‘Coach, I’m not going to lie to you… I’m not going to Alabama,’ ” Hollifield recalled. “I got a text this morning, ‘Dax, I know you told me ‘no,’ but I just feel like you’ve got a place at Alabama and I’m still sending that letter.’ ”
Hollifield said he also told Clemson “no” a couple of weeks back when the Tigers first started recruiting him again, but Dabo Swinney, Brent Venables and company have since been able to get back in the picture.
“To be honest with you, I actually turned Clemson down a week or two ago. Coach Venables called me and was like, ‘We’ve got a scholarship for you.’ I was like, ‘Coach, I really think I’ve got my mind made up. Thank you for everything.’ ”
But Clemson defensive end KJ Henry, who signed with the Tigers in December, played a big role in Hollifield once again putting Clemson under consideration.
Hollifield took a visit to Clemson to hang out with Henry for his birthday a couple of weeks back. Hollifield did not let the Clemson coaching staff know he was coming.
“Coach Venables wanted me to come down that afternoon and hang out with him, and I was like, ‘KJ, I’m going undercover. You can’t tell anyone.’ They ended up finding out, and they were mad,” Hollifield said, adding that he had a good time on the trip. “It was great. It’s an hour and a half from the West End Zone of Death Valley until the sign that says ‘Welcome to Shelby,’ and I really like that about it. I’m all about family. Me and my whole family, like 20 of us, hang out like three or four days a week so it’s really big for me.”
Hollifield favored Clemson early in the process after receiving his first offer from the Tigers early in his high school career, but Clemson filled up at linebacker before he was ready to make a decision.
“Coach Swinney always said once he hits his number, he hits his number. Sophomore year, they had two commits at linebacker… once they committed, I couldn’t go there anymore until recently because they had another scholarship to give me. So I had to take another look at them,” Hollifield said. “That’s always where I wanted to go. I think that’s where I’d probably be happy to play.”
The Tigers have been pulling out all the stops to try to land Hollifield lately, including Swinney FaceTiming him from the Super Bowl on Sunday night.
Hollifield also has close relationships with coaches at Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Stanford, the schools that have been recruiting him all along.
“That’s going to be hard (if I) tell them no. The relationships I’ve built with them are insane… But I’ve got to tell somebody no. They understand that,” Hollifield said. “They’ve just done such a great job recruiting me… They’re like a part of my family now. It’s killing my mom right now because (North Carolina) coach (Gunter) Brewer, she says he’s a part of the family she feels like. It’s just going to be so hard for him if I tell him no, or (Virginia Tech) coach (Bud) Foster same thing. It’s going to be so hard for anybody.”
Hollifield was going to try to take an unofficial visit to Virginia Tech over the weekend, but inclement weather kept the trip from taking place.
He will spend plenty of time consulting with his family before making his final decision Tuesday night. He will call the schools the night before he signs to inform them of his decision.
“It really comes down to where I’m home at and what I fit best into and what I’m looking for,” Hollifield said. “It’s not really how hard somebody’s recruited me, but it is a little bit. But I’ve got to do what’s best for me.”
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