Updated: Dec. 17, 2015 | Written by James H. Williams
Riverside City College sophomore linebacker AJ Hotchkins has decided to bring his football career full circle after signing his letter of intent to play for the University of Oregon football program.
“It was huge for me because my mom will get to watch me play every weekend,” he explained. “(The Ducks) are what I grew up around even though I am not originally from Eugene but I was just two hours away. Around the whole state, you are either a Duck or a (Oregon State) Beaver.”
The Oregon native had originally committed to the University of Wyoming after graduating from Tigard High School in 2014 but decided it was not the place for him and pursued the junior college route.
“It would be huge for me because my mom would come to all my (high school games) and I have local support. To me that is huge,” he added about his decision to return to his home state. “I am not having to go across the country to play football. I won’t have to deal with a culture change. I can just focus on school and football.”
While there are familiar faces from his time in the state of Oregon, the opportunity will also reunite the linebacker with a familiar face from RCC.
During Hotchkins’ freshman year at RCC, he played alongside fellow linebacker Jonah Moi. Together the pair of linebackers served as a 1-2 punch on the defensive side of the ball and leading the team in tackles. Following the season, Moi was offered by Oregon.
After earning All-Central League Defensive Player of the Year as a college freshman, Hotchkins not only returned to the Tigers as the team’s only defensive starter from the previous season but he had become a wanted man among NCAA Division I programs.
“It is just a blessing to be honest,” Hotchkins said. “At this time last year I did not really expect to be where I am at right now. I just have to keep working hard.”
The inside linebacker had received 19 offers from programs such as Arizona, Cal, Texas Tech and Utah.
Hotchkins finished his sophomore season with 99 total tackles with 47 resulting in a loss of yardage for opposing offenses and was named as a unanimous selection for the All-Central Conference First Team Defense.