Analyzing his college football recruiting saga, John Curtis defensive back Hunter Dale knows what he would have done differently — learn to say thanks, but no thanks.
It’s something Dale said he struggled with during this multi-year process, which ended Monday afternoon when he signed a letter of intent to play football and baseball at Washington State.
“I definitely let it get kinda out of hand,” said Dale, who committed to Nebraska this summer before decommitting, forcing him to sit out National Signing Day as he tried to find a different college home.
“I should have calmed it down, maybe committed somewhere earlier.”
Asked if the recruiting process resembled buying a car, Dale’s mother, Michelle, disagreed.
“It’s more like buying a house,” she said.
While Hunter’s cousin, Mississippi State defensive lineman Torrey Dale, is a former Curtis standout and likely shared recruiting advice along with Curtis coach J.T. Curtis, the experience marks a journey that so often is difficult to prepare for.
It feels great to be wanted.
But the 6-foot, 180-pound Dale realized he could only play for one school.
Over the summer, Dale, then a Nebraska commitment, announced on social media to all those who wondered where his college loyalties were, according to cornnation.com.
“Need to calm down I have not committed my recruiting is still open at this time #GatorNation #HailState #VolNation #GoDucks #BearDown,” he Tweeted.
Dale made official visits to Washington State and Tulane.
He said he chose Nebraska over Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Miami, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon and Florida.
He said he got mesmerized by the possibility of playing for so many schools he grew up following on Saturday afternoons. They all wanted to be his friend. His college provider. His coach. His loyal fans.
“You love all the attention you’re getting from the fans and the coaches, but at some point, that’s all gone,” Dale said. “You have to make a decision.”
“This is extremely difficult when everything is in order, under control,” said J.T. Curtis, whose 2014 squad now has six lettermen with college football scholarships. “It’s that difficult. Because it’s a lot of pressure on the family, a lot of pressure on the young men.
Curtis said even when recruiting is going well for a player, it sometimes isn’t.
“It’s not, and in a case like Hunter where he wanted to also play baseball, it was even tougher. But I think he made a good decision for himself.”
With his father’s help — Wyatt Harris played football at Southern — Dale said he opted for Washington State because of its history in a pass-first conference. Four- and five-receiver sets will lead to more opportunities for Dale to make plays on defense, placing Dale closer to his next two dreams — a career in the NFL, followed by an analyst post at a national sports network.
Washington State coach Mike Leach and his staff also impacted Dale’s decision. Dale said he plans to major in kinesiology and minor in mass communications
Last season, Dale earned Class 3A all-state honors for the second time in as many seasons by posting three interceptions with 53 tackles, along with two fumble recoveries. Dale also scored on a 59-yard punt return against Lusher.
He is rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports.