RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Saint Louis' Elliott Purcell, seen here pursuing Pac-Five quarterback Jon-Ray Rodrigues, is headed to New Mexico State.
Purcell picks NMSU
He wasn't heavily coveted, but that didn't matter to Saint Louis' Elliott Purcell.
Purcell, a defensive end, made a strong verbal commitment yesterday to play for New Mexico State. The lanky senior made his choice over the University of Hawaii, which entered the picture recently.
The Aggies pursued the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Purcell with consistency since last summer. His mind was made up once he returned from a trip to the campus two weekends ago. Instead of rushing, however, he decided to take time.
"Everything was brand new, and they're building new stuff -- new dorms and a stadium," Purcell said.
"He's (NMSU defensive line coach Mike Fanoga) really convincing. We talked about the program and how I'm gonna help."
Purcell will move to outside linebacker for the Aggies, who moved into the Western Athletic Conference last fall. He is a full academic qualifier.
"I might play right away," he said.
Turning down Hawaii wasn't a tough decision, he noted.
"I just wanted to get off the island. I talked to my parents, and they were leaning toward UH, but I want to experience new things and live on my own," he said.
Getting homesick is a given, but Purcell believes he'll do well. Last year's group of Aggie recruits included six players from the islands.
"The players, a couple of them I knew, like Lauli Fonoti (of Kahuku). They showed us the place and how good the coaches are," Purcell said. "I don't think I'm gonna get homesick. I'll visit home often."
Purcell has run a 4.84 40-yard dash and bench pressed 185 pounds 17 times. He has a time of 4.72 seconds in the pro agility drill, and a 7.28 in the L-drill.
For now, he's busy on the hardwood.
"I'm just looking forward to playing football up there, but for now, I'm working hard in basketball," he said.