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December 16, 2012When Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton offensive tackle Casey Tucker returned from a recent unofficial visit to USC, he shared a tidbit of information with his high school teammate. Whether he was supposed to or not, Tucker, a Trojan commit, stole a glance at Lane Kiffin's recruiting board while spending time in the football offices. And right there, written in sharpie, was his a familiar name.
Qualen Cunningham, defensive end, class of 2014.
Of course Tucker shared the news with Cunningham immediately upon his return. Things were made official just a few days later.
"The next week, my coach told me I got offered by them," Cunningham said. "It was kind of a weird way to get offered, but it came through. It's a great offer to get. It's a great school. I mean, everybody likes California."
The fact that all of this happened nearly a month ago makes the case even more curious. That's the thing about Cunningham, though. He doesn't speak often. So when he does, he has plenty to share. News piles up in front him and he releases it in bunches.
UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone presented the four-star prospect with an offer last week. Oklahoma is a relatively new member of his offer list, too. Arizona also made things official in recent days. As did Oregon State.
"These offers are cool schools to get offers from," Cunningham said. "I'm not sure when I'm going to making a decision or anything because I'm still not rushing anything. I'm going to wait to take my trips and see which one is the best fit for me."
In total, the junior lists 11 scholarship offers, and more are certainly on the way. But the question is: will that matter?
Cunningham's father played football for Texas A&M, and it's not odd to see the Hamilton junior sporting an Aggies ball cap around practice. He's not making any finite statements about where he might end up, but he's also not downplaying the significance of his maroon-tinted bloodline.
At this early juncture, it seems Cunningham's commitment is Kevin Sumlin's to lose.
"A&M has a lot of hype for me because it's my dad's alma mater and that's one of the biggest deciding factors for me," Cunningham said. "I'm giving every college a chance, but A&M is showing me the most, I guess you could say, love. So right now, with A&M, they're the top."
A an unofficial visit to College Station remains in the works for the offseason, but Cunningham says he and his father are still working on setting a date. The 6-foot-3 end has a man pulling him in a different direction, though. And that's not going to stop anytime soon.
"Of course Casey is selling USC," Cunningham said. "We joke around every day about colleges and how he really wants me to go to USC. So he stays on me about that."
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