Evan Hailes, the 6-foot-2, 310-pound four-star defensive tackle from Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Va., finished his junior season with 81 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
“I’m explosive off the line and use my hands really well,” Hailes said. “I play very aggressive and it gives me a sense of urgency. I like to think I’m a key factor on the team and make the other team worried about me.”
Hailes says he benches an impressive 385-pounds, squats 520 and has a 27-inch vertical jump. “Everybody needs to get faster and I’m working on that a lot,” he said. “I want to improve my footwork too and read blocks better.”
Ranked as Scout.com’s No. 17 defensive tackle nationwide, Hailes has around 10 scholarship offers. Although he continues to deny a leader, Hailes said he favors LSU, Tennessee, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
“LSU and Tennessee have been recruiting me the hardest and I like them both a lot,” he said. “I probably have the best relationship so far with those coaches, but I haven’t been on the campus yet.”
In fact, Hailes says that he grew up following LSU. “I’ve really always liked them,” he said. “I love the stadium. You always hear people talking about the noise there – it seems amazing.
“Plus, I have a really good relationship with their defensive line coach (Brick Haley),” Hailes said. “We talk a lot and he’s cool. He said that if I went there I’d have a good chance to play as a freshman and be a regular starter as a sophomore.”
But Hailes admits he’s equally impressed with the Tennessee coaches he’s gotten to know as well. “They’ve got new coaches, a new system, everything,” he said. “It’s a good time to be going to there. I love how coach Lane Kiffin isn’t wasting any time.
“And they have coach Monte Kiffin on defense and he’s a legend,” he said. “They said they love how I cause distractions in the backfield and that they really want me. Tennessee has great tradition and history too.”
History and tradition are both things that Hailes says are important to him. “Our high school has good tradition and I want to go to a college with tradition too,” he said.
The only school in his top five that he’s already visited is North Carolina State. “It’s a really laid-back place,” he said. “I felt like I fit in pretty well there. It’s a comfortable campus and the people are cool.
“I really like coach Tom O’Brien,” he said. “He’s a very supportive guy and has a good relationship with his team. I just like his attitude.”
The first school to offer Hailes was Boston College during his sophomore season, but he hasn’t visited the Eagles yet. “Boston College is a good defensive team,” he said. “Actually so is Virginia Tech. They are both known for their defense, especially putting out good d-backs.
“I know that Boston College did well last year but they’ve got new coaches now,” he said. “I don’t really know them too well yet.”
Hailes says he also has offers from West Virginia, Clemson, California and Minnesota.
“I see myself taking all my time,” he said. “I want to make a solid decision and not regret it.
“I want to play for a coaching staff that is going to be there and a program that’s stable,” Hailes said. “I also really want to play early. I don’t need to be a starter my freshman year, but I’d like to get in there a bit.”
He reports a 3.1 core GPA and is waiting on his SAT results. He also plans on taking the ACT on April 4.