Lakewood linebacker Joe Hemschoot hopes to announce his decision between Colorado, Stanford and Oregon today after two busy months in which he went from a lightly recruited prospect to a highly regarded talent once film of his senior season was made available.
Hemschoot (pronounced Hem-SCOT) made official visits to all three programs in the past three weeks and also has had in-home visits with coaches from the schools. None of those schools started seriously recruiting Hemschoot until late in the fall after his highlights were shipped to them by Lakewood assistant coach John Bacon, a former player at Oregon.
Colorado coaches even saw Hemschoot firsthand in one of their camps last summer but didn`t offer him at the time. Lakewood coach Mark Robinson said he believes Hemschoot made a lot of progress in developing as a player during his senior year, andhe also has physically matured.
Hemschoot is only 16 years old. His parents started him in school early and he always has been a good student. The program he picks will be getting a good student and a playmaker on the field, though he is a likely candidate for a redshirt season to give him another year to mature.
"There is still a lot of growth that can happen for these kids between their junior and their senior years," Robinson said. "All these programs are trying to sign these kids in their junior years as early as possible. They sign a lot of these kids so darn early that they've hit their peak when they are in high school in their junior year. They're all in a rush to grab the kids as early as possible and there are some of these kids who do have a huge growth spurt and get overlooked."
Scout.com ranks Hemschoot as the third-best in-state prospect in the 2010 class and the No. 34 outside linebacker in the nation. Rivals.com ranks Hemschoot as the 10th best in-state prospect in this cycle and the No. 48 player at his position in the nation. Both services rate him a three-star player.
Hemschoot would be the third linebacker in the Buffs' 2010 class and the 19th overall player to commit. CU is expected to sign 20 or 21 prospects.
Tyler Slavin, a tight end from Chatfield High School in Littleton who has been committed to CU since early last summer, played against Hemschoot last fall. Slavin's team beat Hemschoot's team handily that day, but Slavin said he was impressed by Hemschoot and is keeping his fingers crossed that they become teammates in the future.
"Our coach thought he was only a sophomore," Slavin said. "So I thought for only a sophomore, he was a pretty solid kid. He's got good power. I think he's got some learning to do, but I think athletically and intelligence-wise he's ready for the next level."
Colorado doesn't have a commitment from a four or five star player heading into signing day next week, but Hemschoot would complement several of the better prospects in the current CU class and bring the overall rating of the class up a few notches.
Hemschoot would join quarterbacks Nick Hirschman and Munchie Legaux, defensive back Jered Bell, defensive lineman Chidera Uzo-Diribe and running back Tony Jones as the cream of this year's crop for coach Dan Hawkins' program.
Colorado is also expecting a decision any time now from tight end Harold Mobley, another solid three-star prospect from Corona, Calif., who is deciding between CU, Nebraska and Nevada.
Adding both Hemschoot and Mobley to the current CU recruiting class might be enough to get the Buffs a top-50 ranking by the major recruiting services for this class. As it stands now, CU is on the outside of the top-50 for the first time in Hawkins' tenure.