After Shayne Hale tore up the competition at the Scout.com combine in Pittsburgh last year, his stock rose immensely. He had solid performances at several events this year as well. So, the attention has not waned. Hale, a senior this fall at Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pa., has been to Pitt on several occasions and also has visited Virginia, Maryland and Ohio State.
"About my official visits, I haven't thought about a top five, but I'll get to that sometime this summer,'' Hale said. "I'll probably narrow my choices a little before the season and probably a lot more after it, but I definitely won't make a final decision until after the season.
"Actually, I'll probably wait until the last minute to announce. It's just that it's such a big decision that I want to take my time and make sure it's the right one. I want to pick the right school. I'm going to be there four, maybe five years, so I'll weigh all my options and then I'll decide.''
Hale hopes to avoid all the craziness he went through during his junior football season, but that isn't likely.
"I got a lot of offers during last season, a lot of texting and calling, it was really crazy then,'' Hale said. "The newspapers and magazines started calling, so it was out of hand for a while. But it was all right. I eventually got used to it. I was just trying to stay focused on my team and our season.
"That's what I want to do this season, too, and that's why I'm taking my time to make a decision. I want to be with my team this year, while I can, and focus on this upcoming season before I focus on college. I'll have all the time in the world to focus on college after my last high school season.''
That's why Hale enjoys the combines. Not only does it give him a chance to compete against some of the top players in the tri-state area, but he can spend time with his teammates in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than on the practice field during the regular season.
"Sure, we can have some fun out here,'' Hale said. "As long as I'm with my teammates, even though we don't have any pads on here, I'm having a good time. We also can show what we can do individually and as a team.''
Hale likes being with his teammates so much that he just might choose a school that will take Cameron Saddler with him. Not that Saddler needs the help, since the Gateway cornerback is among the fastest players around with steady 4.4-second 40-yard dashes.
"That could happen,'' Saddler said, "but we'll see. We're not going to make a decision for a while. This season is too important for us. We want to get a championship, so that's going to be our focus. Then, we'll choose where we want to go to college.''
For Hale, however, there's just a lot more choices.