this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Texas running back Stephen Hopkins did, as threatened, commit to Michigan over the weekend. Brace yourselves for Ohio State uniforms:
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|NR||NR||77, no position rating|
ESPN gives Hopkins a meh grade of 77 and provides a scouting report that makes him sound eerily similar to a current player:
Hits the hole fast and does a job getting north quickly; does not take a lot of wasted lateral steps but shows he can bounce it outside to daylight without losing a lot in transition. At his best when he plants and accelerates downhill behind his pads. Tends to run high but still is very sturdy and strong at the high school level and breaks consistent first contact. Determined back who keeps his legs driving in the pile and fights for extra yards. Difficult for smaller defensive backs to arm-tackle when he gains momentum through the second level. However, his high running style hinders his balance, often chopped down low, and yards after contact production.
Would you change a word of that if you were adapting it to fit Brandon Minor? I don't think so.
The Dallas Morning News named Hopkins the #1 tailback in the area for 2010, declaring him "the true definition of a workhorse"; he checks in at #76 on Inside Texas' statewide top 100. All these things point to a mid-three-star ranking. Given the extensive knowledge about Hopkins' game—he's racked up almost 600 carries already—that's not likely to change.
While those ratings and rankings aren't particularly exciting, there's an informative thread at 5ATexasFootball.com in which a variety of fans who saw Flower Mound Marcus grind their team into dust offer up homage. An admin:
He is a very impressive player. His size is rare with RBs today. He can run for speed and power. I didn't see him on one of his better production days, but he's one of those guys you know is a player just by watching him operate for a few plays. Physically, he is ahead of the game for his age.
When we played them in 2007 we got the ball first and went 3 and out, or close to that. They then ran about 9 minutes off the clock and scored. Pretty much every series was like that. When the other team has the ball for 9 minutes of every 12 minute quarter scoring chances are few.
The guys is IMO the best back in the DFW area. … The off-season between his sophomore and junior year saw him put on some size and gain in speed. He has developed into a very patient runner that will wait for the hole to develop and then explodes. His power is unmatched by any back I saw last year. … Marcus added a inside/outside running game last year and was able to do that with Hopkins. The year before he was limited to getting his yards between the tackles due to not having the game breaking speed, last year that changed and Marcus was able to break the big one on sweeps, off tackles and power plays. One of his strengths is his ability to hold onto the football too.
That's echoed several times, with the only downer being someone who mentions he "lacks the speed to be an elite back"; I'll let this guy have the final word from the fans:
Hopkins is not that good. After he went over 200-225 yards against us he started to wear down
After he wore down, We stopped him COLD after only 7 or 8 yards.
Meanwhile, Hopkins' coach before his junior year:
"He's one of those classic downhill runners that gets stronger as the game wears on," Marcus coach Bryan Erwin said. "But at the same time, he does all the other things that you need from an every-down back. He can block. He can catch passes. Whatever you need him to do, he can do it."
And Hopkins himself:
"If you need me to pick up a first down in a short-yardage situation, I'm your man, but I don't want to be just a power back," Hopkins said.
"Adrian Peterson can run over you, but he can also take it 80 yards if he gets an opening. So I've really been working hard on improving my speed. I think you're going to see a lot more big plays from me this year."
As you'll see in the stats, he made good on that.
Hopkins' full slate as of a couple weeks ago, complete with pretty FAKE-ish 40 time:
Hopkins, 6-0, 220, 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has scholarship offers from Michigan, Texas A&M, Stanford, Kansas, Kansas State, SMU and Texas Tech. He's attended junior day at Texas A&M, SMU, Baylor, Nebraska, Connecticut, Texas and Texas Tech.
Though Michigan is clearly the biggest name on that offer list, that's a decent assortment for April.
The stats indicate a pounding, frequently-used back. This guy did the division for me:
But Marcus' Stephen Hopkins? That boy was proving it every Friday. Hopkins racked up 275 carries in 2008, netting him 1,689 yards and 22 touchdowns -- and that's just in 11 games! How many guys can carry the ball almost 300 times and still maintain a 6.0 YPC average?
In high school, probably lots. But it's a significant bump from Hopkins' sophomore stats:
The incoming senior has been making a name for himself since his sophomore year, when he rushed for 1,663 yards and 16 touchdowns on 343 carries for an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
That's a ton of carries. He's durable, and probably low upside, by which I mean he's not been overlooked for any reason. Recruiting gurus know all about him and say he's a middling prospect.
FAKE 40 TIME
As above, 4.6 for a 220 pound high school junior. Eh… probably not.
Try to suppress your natural desire to see the man with the ball fumble, get blown up by the safety, or go on a crazy rampage with an armory's worth of guns, an axe, and a lint roller:
There's not a lot of wow there, but Hopkins isn't a wow sort of back. He picks a hole and runs through it as hard and fast as he can.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
This one's easy: Brandon Minor. I've actually deleted Minor's name three different times as this post has come together and the redundancy became more obvious. Minor, a low four star, was slightly higher rated as a recruit, but everything else is almost identical.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has one scatback and one thunderous moose to fill the slots vacated by Brown and Minor; a third back in the class is likely to keep the numbers up, as Michigan has already lost two tailbacks to transfer and will lose the aforementioned seniors and Kevin Grady after 2009. At this point you'd hope they'd sit tight and swing for the fences (GA RB Mack Brown, SC RB Marcus Lattimore) but if MI RB Austin White wants to jump aboard soon—doubtful but not impossible—they'd probably take him.
Is instate RB Nick Hill going to get an offer at this point? I think he'll at least have to wait for summer camp.
OTHER GUY NAMED STEPHEN HOPKINS
He was a Pilgrim, except not really since he wasn't a member of their goofy religious cult:
Stephen Hopkins (born about 1582 – 1644), was a tanner and merchant who was one of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620, settling in Plymouth Colony. … Hopkins was one of forty-one signatories of the Mayflower Compact and was an assistant to the governor of the colony through 1636.
Computer issues remain: this is Tom's doing, as per usual.
Texas running back Stephen Hopkins attends a high school with unfortunate uniforms. He's also one of a few bigger backs with a Michigan offer; he's also been offered by Texas A&M, Nebraska and Oregon. You can see him turn linebackers into goo at ESPN. Tom interviewed him over the weekend, and it sounds like Michigan is a strong contender.
TOM: So what schools are showing interest in you so far?
STEPHEN: Stanford, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M are a few off the top of my head.
TOM: Being from Texas, what schools are you most interested in? Is it important to stay close to home?
STEPHEN: I’m interested in all of them right now but I know the most about Michigan and Texas A&M. Distance won’t be a factor for me, I know that. I just want to go where I’m wanted.
TOM: You’re a bigger back already, and only a junior. Do you think that gives you an advantage going into college?
STEPHEN: Yea, it kind of gives me a disadvantage though too. Sometimes there’s a stereotype that I can’t run fast, but I’m going to improve on that. I recently ran a 4.6 40, so I want to try to get that down to a 4.5. I like that I’m bigger, and don’t want to lose that, but I want to get faster too.
TOM: Are you more of a physical back with your size, or do you try to stay balanced?
STEPHEN: I’m going to try to be more balanced next year. I think I can do other things besides hit. I really want to show what I can do this year, and hopefully let the schools know I’m not just a big back.
TOM: You’ve been to Texas A&M, SMU, and Nebraska so far. What stood out to you with those schools?
STEPHEN: I liked A&M the most, because I got the most attention. I don’t want that to sound bad, but I want to be a big part of the program, and make a difference. I don’t want to just be a role player.
TOM: What other visits do you plan on taking over the summer?
STEPHEN: I’m going to KU; my family is from there so that will be easy. I’m going to Michigan April 10th too. Besides that, I’m not really sure; it depends on how my visits before that go. My biggest thing with Michigan is how they’ll use me in the offense. I know they haven’t really had any bigger backs like me before, so that’s one thing I’m going to ask the coaches. Obviously it’s Michigan, so they have great facilities, and the environment is great, I want to see about some other parts too.
TOM: I know it’s early, but what kind of negative recruiting have you seen so far?
STEPHEN: I haven’t really heard any yet. No one has put anyone down; it’s been more focused on their school. I’m still deciding on whether or not I’m going to graduate early, so when I decide that I think I’ll hear more.
TOM: What’s going to make your final decision? What do you want from a school?
STEPHEN: I want to see how I’m used in the offense mainly. Most of the schools I’m looking at have good business schools, which is important. My main thing is how valuable I am to them. I want to be a big part, and I know I can make a difference.
TOM: Where does Michigan rank right now? Do you have a top 5?
STEPHEN: If there was a top, I’d say Michigan’s tied with Texas A&M. I don’t want to say too much, but I haven’t even seen them yet, and they’re definitely up there. I’m excited to see everything up there.