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Last updated: Tue. Jun. 03, 2014 - 05:59 am EDT

Safety Dale not afraid to leave comfort zone

Louisiana prospect with ND interest not pinned to the South

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Hunter Dale has no problem with forging his own path, even if that path leads north.

While many elite prep football players in Louisiana choose to stay in the South for college – particularly in-state LSU or other SEC schools – Dale is approaching the final summer of his recruitment with an open mind, including eying opportunities in other areas of the country.

One of those opportunities Dale is hoping to get to choose from is Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish have yet to offer the safety senior-to-be from River Ridge, La, but Dale is planning on working to earn that scholarship on the recruiting circuit over the next few months.

That quest continued Sunday at the NIKE Football Training Camp on the campus of Ohio State University.

“I want to leave the state,” said Dale. “A lot of people (in Louisiana) like LSU, but I just want to leave the state.”

Dale is rated a three-star prospect in the latest rankings by Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service. He is ranked as the No. 17 safety in the country this cycle.

It is tough to say if Dale's mind would be changed with a scholarship offer from LSU, something he has not picked up as of yet. But he does seem like he has his sights set on getting away from the bayou. He plans to visit UCLA, Tennessee and Miami in the near future, in addition to keeping up conversations with his recruiter Kerry Cooks at Notre Dame.

Dale is the godson of former Fighting Irish tight end Irv Smith, who played under Lou Holtz before a seven-year career in the NFL. Smith has been in the ear of Dale in talking up Notre Dame and has helped the bond grow with the coaching staff.

“Coach Cooks just found out my godfather went there and that I am really interested in them,” Dale said. “He is going to get me in contact with the head coach.”

Dale does not have a visit currently planned to Notre Dame, but that would change with an offer.

“My godfather just said (the campus) is something you have to experience when you get up there,” Dale said. “It is just a great tradition of winning, family and everything.”

At 5-foot-10, 190-pounds, Dale projects at either safety position at the next level, although some added bulk will help if he can keep his speed. He also plays baseball and hopes to be a dual-sport athlete in college. Dale and the rest of his John Curtis Christian High School baseball teammates played for the Class 3A state championship recently, but lost to Evangel Christian.

“I will play (baseball) wherever I go,” Dale said. “A good baseball program would be good, too.”

Some of Dale's top offers to this point include Florida, Miami, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Oregon.

Indiana has also offered and is in the mix.

Notre Dame had not had much success in recent seasons in plucking talent out of Louisiana, but has bucked that trend by earning a verbal commitment this cycle from four-star offensive lineman Jerry Tillery out of Shreveport.

A scholarship offer would put Notre Dame squarely in the mix with Dale.

“Definitely the legacy and tradition,” said Dale when asked what stands out about the Fighting Irish. “And obviously the movie, 'Rudy.'”

Notre Dame is likely to take several defensive backs this cycle, meaning an offer could come for Dale if several current targets drop off the board. However, two safeties have already committed in four-star Prentice McKinney and three-star Nicco Fertitta.

jkenny@news-sentinel.com


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