Hunter Echols Signs with USC Football on Signing Day 2017
The edge rusher of USC’s 2017 recruiting class is in. Four-star linebacker and former UCLA commit Hunter Echols officially signed his letter of intent with the Trojans on Signing Day.
It’s always a win for USC football when they can get a recruiting win over UCLA. But flipping a Bruin into a Trojan is the ultimate victory, as was nearly the case with four-star edge rusher Hunter Echols out of Cathedral High School in Los Angeles.
After de-committing from UCLA last summer, Echols committed to USC a week later. He immediately became one of the Trojans’ most vocal recruiters in the 2017 class, and serves as a key Signing Day haul for a young defense.
At 6-foot-4 and 231 pounds, Echols is a prototypical edge rusher ranked as the 10th best weakside defensive end in the 247Sports Composite. Despite its proximity on the edge Downtown Los Angeles, Echols is the first USC signee from Cathedral since Tony Ortega in 1956.
Where He Fits
Given his size and ability to rush the passer, Hunter Echols projects to play the ‘predator’ edge rusher role in Clancy Pendergast’s defense. Currently, the Trojans have a talented trio of Porter Gustin, Connor Murphy and Oluwole Betiku there, making it an uphill battle to win significant playing time immediately.
Pendergasts’ willingness to get creative with various defensive formations and packages could pave the way for an opportunity early on, but fall camp will be telling for 2017.
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For now though, the depth chart will give him time to further develop technique and muscle mass, a luxury for player with the ideal frame and raw talent of Echols. Like Murphy last year, he’ll be groomed as Gustin’s replacement.
High School Highlights
He Reminds Us Of…Nick Perry
Though raw and not quite as strong, Echols is built similarly to former Trojan Nick Perry, who was a 4-3 defensive end at USC and has since gone on to be an outside linebacker with the Green Bay Packers.
On top of the physical tools, Echols is a dead-set edge rusher like the Trojans haven’t hauled in with regularity since Perry in 2008, despite a bevy on the roster. Gustin played all over the field in high school, and both Betiku and Murphy have been mentioned as potential candidates to move to the five-technique defensive end role, where Rasheem Green plays.