There are days when even Anthony Hines III asks himself, "How?"
How does a high school sophomore, a 4-star 2017 linebacker, a player who recently turned 16 years old, have more offers than two or three 5-star athletes combined?
And then he's reminded of everything he's done to get those offers. All the hard work in the weight room. All the production in game situations. All the road trips to multiple universities.
It's only then when that "how" question—how a player who, three months ago, wasn't legally old enough to drive a car by himself but now fields 65 offers—makes sense.
"To be honest, I was just blessed to have one [offer]," Hines said. "Every single time another comes in, I accept it. I look it as motivation to get better and better."
'Is That My Son?'
Michigan. Ohio State. South Carolina. Tennessee. Texas. Texas A&M. Baylor. Oklahoma. Stanford. UCLA. Miami. North Carolina State. And so on and so on. On Monday, the sophomore from Plano East High School in Plano, Texas, received an offer from Georgia.
As the No. 6 outside linebacker nationally in the 2017 class, per 247Sports, Hines' offer sheet looks like a list of NCAA schools participating in an important college day at a high school. Offer No. 1 came from Mississippi State in June of 2013. He had a few days remaining in his eighth-grade year and took a road trip with his father for a camp.
During the camp, Mr. Hines said his son started out working on running back drills, but then-Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins—who is now the defensive coordinator at Florida—decided to put Hines in linebacker drills.
"He was matching up with 5-star guys, and his footwork and knowledge of what they were doing was just as good," Mr. Hines said. "He really showed out. I looked at him like, 'Is that my son?'"
Before leaving Starkville, Hines—not even a high school athlete—had his first offer from the Bulldogs.
"That feeling, besides the birth of my kids and meeting my wife, was probably the best feeling of my life," Mr. Hines said. "I cried like a baby."
Life's So Good, It's 'Embarrassing.'
Mr. Hines first saw something in his son in the fourth grade. While some kids Hines' age were into video games and playing other sports, Hines was focused solely on his game. By the sixth grade, he was becoming more of a physical specimen and looked the part of a future FBS athlete.
"I remember him as a running back, and the way he saw the field was unbelievable," Mr. Hines said. "I remember he ran a 70-yard touchdown, but it probably took him 120 yards to get there. This was in a select football game against some of the top kids that are on college radars now."
One look at Hines now, and he easily passes the eye test. He's 6'2" barefoot (his signature afro not included) and weighs 218 pounds. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds and is ridiculously strong for a 16-year-old. He bench presses 385 pounds and said he wants to bench 405 by the end of the spring.
His highlight video supports why he's such a wanted athlete. He has a nose for the football as an outside linebacker. His tackling skills arguably stand taller than his ability to deliver the big hit, but his skill for running down the ball-carrier may trump all.
Additionally, he's a humble, polite individual off the field who is also an A-B student in the classroom. He shakes hands. He looks people in the eyes during conversation. His favorite subject is geometry.
Everything appears to be going his way. To Mr. Hines, as proud as he is of his son, it's almost "embarrassing" to see what has transpired.
"For a kid this young to have what he has as far as offers go...there are so many people asking how he does it, almost like that can't be," Mr. Hines said. "It's embarrassing at times to talk about, but he's got them, and we're so proud of him."
Hitting the Trail
Part of Hines' recruiting process involves game film and how he performs at camps. He also takes a lot of unofficial visits.
Since Hines' eighth-grade year, he and his father have either used the family Suburban or rented a car to make road trips all over the country to visit schools or attend camps. Coaches see him in person and are immediately attracted.
"Having the coaches see him," Mr. Hines said. "That's half the battle right there."
Hines committed to Mississippi State in October 2013, but reopened his process in November of last year. He doesn't have a list of top schools right now, but he said offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Michigan State, South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Ole Miss and all the Texas programs are the most intriguing so far.
Hines added that there are two schools he'd welcome offers from. But as of Thursday morning, USC and Auburn have yet to pull the trigger.
"I like that both of them are prestigious programs," Hines said.
He continued: "USC was kind of a dream school growing up. I used to watch them all the time and played with them on NCAA Football '06 [video game] back in the day. Plus, my dad's from California.
"With Auburn, I saw them when I went to Mississippi State. Although they lost, they really competed. I saw them when they played Alabama, and their defense was shutting down [Blake] Sims. I'm really impressed with how their defense works and how they work under Coach [Gus] Malzahn."
Motivation for More
With 65 offers, Hines is an in-demand individual. But his success also makes him a target for criticism.
Some feel he isn't worthy of the offers. Others believe some offers cannot be committed to. And others also don't believe he has all the offers in the first place.
Hines turns his attention to a quote Richard Sherman helped make popular after the Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game en route to winning Super Bowl XLVIII.
"I mean, the hate is everywhere," Hines said. "You really can't let haters bring you down. You have to let your play, your hard work in the classroom and the success on the field speak for you.
"I know there are people looking for me to fail, but that's my motivation."
Hines said he will ultimately narrow his choices, but in the meantime, he's hoping to add a few more offers to his extensive collection. Seeing himself as an underdog helps to fuel his fire.
As the spring approaches, one question serves as a proverbial elephant in the room: Can Hines get to 100 offers?
"Do we really want that many offers?" Mr. Hines asked, laughing. "It's already hard enough as it is. But either way, his mother and I and the rest of the family are very proud of him. He told me back when he was in the fifth grade that this is what he wanted, and he's worked his tail off."
Hines added: "I think about this every day, not in the way where it's pressure, but I realize with all the offers, all eyes are on me. All of it drives me."
Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles