It didn't take long for Massachusetts offensive lineman Lucas Hinds to determine where he wanted to attend college. Hinds, who will join the Stanford football program this fall as a walk-on, visited several Ivy League schools before taking a summer trip to The Farm.
Once Hinds arrived on campus in Palo Alto, he knew Stanford was an ideal fit.
"As soon as I came to Stanford in June of last year, I just knew that was the place I wanted to be," Hinds said.
"As soon as I went to the campus, saw the campus and I went to the Junior Day, I knew that's the place I wanted to be and no one's going to change my mind otherwise. The academics are unparalleled. I'm pairing the best of both worlds academically and athletically. You can't match it."
A few weeks after returning home from Stanford's summer camp and Junior Day, Hinds was invited to walk-on to the Stanford football team. He accepted the offer on the spot.
"I think the Junior Day is what really did it for me," Hinds said. "The Junior Day was unparalleled to any other school. I went to Columbia and Harvard and all of them. The Stanford one, we went through all of the tours, we actually got to talk to the professors, and they were so down-to-earth. I just felt comfortable. When you're there, you just can't go anywhere else. That's what went through my head."
Hinds turned down spots at Columbia, Cornell, Princeton and Yale in favor of the Cardinal.
But while Stanford had been on Hinds' radar for several years, playing football at Stanford was not at the forefront of Hinds' mind until his junior season. The recruiting process for Hinds began at the end of his junior year, and he initially focused mostly on the Ivy League schools before adding the Cardinal to his list.
After the Cardinal saw Hinds' film, regional recruiter David Kotulski paid a visit to Hinds' school and encouraged the 6-foot-5, 290-pound prospect to attend camp over the summer.
So, Hinds added Stanford to his camp swing, which included stops at several Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton.
"I immediately felt comfortable with the coaching staff," Hinds said. "Working with Coach Bloomgren on the offensive line, he gave me very good feedback. They didn't tell me that I would have a spot right during camp, but in the middle of July I was actually at summer school and I got the call from Coach Kotulski and he said they had a spot open for me. It's a blessing that I have this opportunity."
With his decision made, Hinds got to work on Stanford's application process. He navigated a different path than many Stanford football walk-on prospects to gain admissions to the school. Instead of waiting until the general application period, Hinds applied early action. He learned he was admitted in mid-December.
"I was overjoyed," Hinds said of getting accepted. "My dream came true. I can't wait to spend the next four years over there working with Coach Shaw and the rest of the coaching staff."
After making his commitment, Hinds followed Stanford's season through various media platforms, though he was unable to take an unofficial visit to Palo Alto during the fall to watch any games in person. He was particularly impressed with the demeanor of the Cardinal players.
"I just like the way that the players carry themselves," Hinds said. "Watching the offensive line with Coach Bloomgren, they're always tough and getting after it. Watching the videos on YouTube that they put up, I was overcome."
Hinds made his second trip to Palo Alto over the weekend for the school's admit weekend. His host was a with fellow New England walk-on, Sam Yules.
The next time Hinds returns to campus will likely be in September for the beginning of his college career. (Due to a lack of roster spots, Hinds probably won't be able to join the team for the beginning of training camp in August.) He's eager to begin the next chapter of his football career.
"(I'm looking forward to) just getting to work with the coaches and meeting my future teammates," Hinds said. "And just get started to dominate the Pac-12 "
Hinds said that he's not sure whether Stanford likes him more along the interior of the offensive line or at tackle, but that he prefers playing guard.
"Either offensive guard or offensive tackle, I'm not sure yet where they want me to be," Hinds said. "I would like to play guard because I enjoy pulling."