2010 Recruiting: Stephen Hopkins Comment Count

Brian August 19th, 2010 at 2:45 PM

Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, WR Jerald Robinson, WR DJ Williamson, WR Jeremy Jackson, and WR Ricardo Miller.

Flower Mound, TX - 6'0" 229


mgouser Drake painted the ugly off 

Scout 3*, #52 RB
Rivals 3*, NR
ESPN 3*, 77, #50 RB
Others Consensus #76 player in Texas
Other Suitors Texas A&M, Arkansas, Kansas, Kansas State
YMRMFSPA Leroy Hoard or Brandon Minor
Previously On MGoBlog Tom interviews Hopkins. Dramatic Cupcake Hopkins. Commitment post.
Notes Early enrollee. From the same town as hockey forward Chris Brown.


If you liked Brandon Minor but thought he was too tall, too fast, and insufficiently bowling-ball shaped, you'll love Stephen Hopkins. ABC should bring Keith Jackson out of mothballs just so he can call Hopkins a "hoss" enough for the descriptor to be dubbed over every subsequent run in his career, NCAA XX style ("He used POWER").

Calling him a workhorse is almost insufficient: as a sophomore, Hopkins ran 322 times for Marcus. (They managed to cut him back to 275 as a junior.) People still do, though, with the Dallas Morning News going so far as to call him "the definition of a workhorse" as they named him the area's top back for 2010. He says the things that workhorses say, too:

"We ended up pounding the ball and pounding the ball," Hopkins said. "That was a great team we beat, so it's really satisfying".

All those carries added up to a grinding mountain of stats: 1,663 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore, 1,689 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior. In his senior year Marcus finally found a couple guys to share the load and Hopkins got a less frenetic workload, but still put up 1282 yards on just over 200 carries. As I was saying: hoss.

Stephen Hopkins is Brandon Minor, but moreso. ESPN doesn't use the word "Minor" but just about says so($):

Hopkins has big-back size with deceptively good feet and lateral agility. … 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. … 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. Opens his body to direct shots, which is concern in a high carry role at the next level. Can see and hit the cutback creases, but is not a natural pick and slide zone runner and may be limited to more downhill schemes in college. Shows good initial quicks through the hole but lacks great top-end speed when breaks free in the second level and an extra gear to separate.

Could you craft a better Brandon Minor scouting report than that? No. Also, Michigan's coaches, by way of Hopkins himself, say so:

"They told me I'm a lot like Brandon Minor and the other big backs they've played in their system."

And Hopkins says so too:

“I think I’m a pretty strong runner just like Brandon Minor is,” Hopkins said. “I’m a little bit bigger than he is, but I think I have a lot of the same attributes he does running the ball. He gets tough yardage, breaks first contact, gets a lot of yards after contact. I think I’m a lot like that.”

Jordan Kovacs woozily concurs after getting trucked twice in a row in the spring game. Also he probably says "momma."

We have established the equality of Brandon Minor and Stephen Hopkins, but there's more stuff too, stuff that makes Hopkins seem ever so slightly distinct. One: he's slower. More Hopkins on Hopkins:

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.

Two: he has even more RAGE. An observer of the coaches' clinic scrimmage:

The guy is just a freaking monster and he breaks tackles. Now, I can’t say he can block, or knows the offense or can catch the ball. Plus, he fumbled twice (once he was hit at the handoff, on the other instance it might have been the QB’s issue). But man is he a tough tackle on the belly if he can get (even) a yard of momentum.

In several different reports, Rivals calls him($) "a physical, punishing back" who "never hesitates" and "goes for positive yardage on practically every carry," praises his($) "tremendous overall size" and ability to "always … fall forward after being tackled," and says almost the exact same things($) in a third game report. (A caveat: report two says "he would have to be a short-yardage and goal-line back in the spread offense run at Michigan" and says he'll probably be a middle linebacker, two things that betray a scant knowledge of both Michigan's roster and the blood-strewn area on the backside of the Michigan offensive line that appeared whenever Brandon Minor had fewer than six broken bits.) Minor was pretty good at getting forward but he was taller and skinnier and more prone to get lit up for running too high. It sounds like you'd pick Hopkins if you had fourth and one.

As a potential bonus, his coach claims he's good out of the backfield and with the blocking and whatnot:

"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."

A year later, Erwin would say he's "great" at both blocking and receiving and the "most complete back that I've ever coached." He also knocked down that criticism from Rivals above:

"He's a great inside zone runner, which in that scheme, he should do well," noted the Marcus head coach. "When they do get in the I-formation, he's going to be fantastic. He does both those things for us. We still run a lot of I-formation and he's tremendous on tall sweeps and off-tackle plays."

The locals were also impressed. A message board focused on 5A Texas football has a thread in which the denizens say these things:

He is a very impressive player. His size is rare with RBs today. He can run for speed and power. … 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.

With the crying need for a hippopotamus back on the roster and Rodriguez's RAGE-friendly belly schemes, Hopkins is going to be a tailback at Michigan all the way. In the I-formation he'll line up behind the fullback and iso like mad. In the spread 'n' shred he'll be the Owen Schmitt (who ran the ball some 57 times as a senior) to someone else's Steve Slaton. The coaches have told him he's not a fullback. He won't be. He will be a horse.

Etc.: With Hopkins looking like a four-year contributor, get used to this:


As a junior, went Biakabutuka (313 yards) in a heartbreaking loss to Southlake Carroll. There is a petition for one Stephen Hopkins to be signed to "Sporting Hinton" permanently. Doctor Saturday as emirate? Random quote:

"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.

Hopkins made the All State team in the largest Texas division… second team… and they put four running backs on each team. Everything's bigger in Texas.

Other guy named Stephen Hopkins: Guys named Stephen Hopkins have a rich history in American… uh… history. One of them was on the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower Compact; another was one of Rhode Island's signatories on the Declaration of Independence. Hopkins beats Jeremy Jackson hands down.

Why Leroy Hoard or Brandon Minor? Minor is obvious. As for Hoard: take it from the guy who is cited above as Practice Observer, who was talking with a guy who played with Leroy Hoard, knows Leroy Hoard, watched Hopkins practice, and said "that's Leroy Hoard."

Guru Reliability: High, I guess. No reason a four-year starter at a major Dallas school wouldn't get the crap scouted out of him. Everyone thought Minor was going to be a fullback, too, though, and none of them seem to realize that Michigan has run plays that people other than Steve Slaton can run.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Obvious, immediate contributor that fills a hole on the roster but unlikely to be a big star.
Projection: Fills a niche in the Michigan backfield that needs filling (see: worst play of the Decade #4) and will play this year. His worst case is the short yardage and goal-line back; his best case is Runaway Beer Truck next to a Vincent Smith.



August 19th, 2010 at 3:18 PM ^

The artwork dates to January, so okay.  #2 on offense is still Vincent Smith.

[OT Note: I'd love to see Cullen Christian, assuming he is to be thrust into a starting role as a freshman, replacing Woolfolk on short notice, be offered the chance to wear #2 on defense (now that it is vacant) if he wants to. It's an iconic Michigan defensive number and an honor (in my mind, anyhow). Maybe he will want to have his own identity and to not feel like a Charles Woodson wannabe, but it'd be nice to give him the choice. The kid is going to be carrying a boatload of pressure this year.]


August 19th, 2010 at 6:44 PM ^

Justin Turner was the last defensive player to wear #2. My understanding is that they gave it to him because he asked for it and he was a 5-star, heir to the Woodson(#2)-Jackson(#3) tradition of great Michigan cornerbacks. When I said maybe Cullen wouldn't want to feel like a CW wannabe, it was a back-handed dig at Turner...


August 19th, 2010 at 3:00 PM ^

If he can handle the pounding at this level and he's in Big Ten football shape [keep in mind that he just came from high school], then he should see significant action. If he can't take the pounding then he will be used sparingly but used more starting next year. I figure if Brandon Minor being a Barwis graduate had difficulty with staying healthy, Hopkins is not a shoe in just yet.

burntorange wi…

August 19th, 2010 at 7:19 PM ^

he just graduated from high school. yes. is he ready to step onto the field as a freshman and contribute in b10 games? well, if i had to pick a high school division to pick players from and had to field a football team made entirely of freshmen it would definitely be 5A football in texas. highest level of competition you can find. 


August 19th, 2010 at 3:04 PM ^

Early prediction, Stephen Hopkins is going to be a very big star.  The value of eliminating 2nds and 10, 3rds and 12, etc. . . cannot be overstated in the Big 10,  This is the dimension of the offense we loved during the brief glimpses of a healthy Brandon Minor.    


August 19th, 2010 at 3:09 PM ^

Leroy Hoard remains to this day my favorite Viking: "Coach, if you need one yard, I'll get you three yards. If you need five yards, I'll get you three yards."


August 19th, 2010 at 4:00 PM ^

Hoard apparantly said it to his running backs coach in Minnesota, but it's a variation of Don Meredith's line about Walt Garrison, ""If it was third down, and you needed four yards, if you'd get the ball to Walt Garrison, he'd get ya five. And if was third down and ya needed 20 yards, if you'd get the ball to Walt Garrison, by God, he'd get you five."

Shalom Lansky

August 19th, 2010 at 3:10 PM ^

Since Brian just called Hopkins a Hippo back, I'm thinking of a gigantic hippo on its hind legs with jaws spread wide (football in mouth? tray of cupcakes?), wearing a Michigan helmet and Hopkins' jersey.

Anyone else onboard with this?


August 19th, 2010 at 3:14 PM ^

Ah normality. You know it is good to keep children on a routine schedule ... especially at times of high stress.

I am looking forward to Stephen's historic contributions at Michigan.


August 19th, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

Gotta be honest, he absolutley trucked Kovacs on those 2 plays. After the first on I probably would have tried to cut his legs rather than go high. I predict him getting a ton of touches near the goal line and short yardage situations, he's gonna be a good one....


August 19th, 2010 at 3:59 PM ^

He would have been a big help on the goal line even last year.  This is now ancient history, but having nobody to go to but an injured Brandon Minor in the Illinois game and  getting stuffed at the 1 yard line was the turning point of the 2009 whole season.  A truck like Hopkins will help us win a few games like that.

Twisted Martini

August 19th, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

At the Mickey D's on South U back in the day.  Dude wasn't tall, but he was built like a fire hydrant.  I'm thinking Hopkins could be like Ron Dayne if given the chance.  Wear 'em down and own the 4th quarter.


August 19th, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

I have been very excited about Hopkins since his signing.  ANY running game is better if you have both the DONDER and the BLITZEN...spread, power I, triple option, you name it.  Now combine power/speed-slash running styles with the two-headed Denard/Tate QB and defenses are driven totally crazy.  If only we had Jim Smith to run the reverse...

Love the comparison to Hoard.  I recall watching 'Michigan Replay' in those days and it seemed every week there was a clip where Bo would say, 'Leroy Hoard (slight pause)running hard.'


August 19th, 2010 at 3:53 PM ^

I think you should compare to the A-Train,Anthony Thomas if yall don't know who i am talking about.On film he just gets the job done.If he can run a sub 4.4 watch out!!!


August 19th, 2010 at 3:54 PM ^

I thought "Leroy Hoard" too when I saw Hopkins in the Spring Game.  He even wears the same #33.  I wonder if Fred Jackson saw the same thing when they were handing out jersey numbers to the Freshmen.  If he has even half the career Hoard had, he will be a valuable part of the team.


August 19th, 2010 at 4:05 PM ^

Hopkins wore #2 at FlowerMound Marcus.  I was able to watch him play 6 times last year including a playoff game at Jerry's World.  I have not had the chance to see a HS running back like him since watching Cedric Benson out in Midland.  

I remember in the playoff game where he caught 3 passes in a row out of the backfield, and then ran the ball three straight times up the middle before breaking free for a 29 yr TD.

I however did not see him block at all... well because he had the ball the whole time

Steve in PA

August 19th, 2010 at 4:36 PM ^

After this offseason I really needed to hear that we'll soon be seeing some 'Minor Fucking Rage' punishing defenses.  It will be nice to see a guy run angry over and through the secondary.


August 19th, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

We have lots of running backs who might [or might not] be ok.  We do not have lots of linebackers who might [or might not] be ok.  I honestly think Hopkins could help more as a full-time-chance-to-be-good linebacker than a situational running back.


August 19th, 2010 at 5:27 PM ^

Unlike ILB (I'm assuming that's where you meant) we will be playing close a number of guys are RB, somewhere around 4 or 5 will get a decent number of carries.  If you move Hopkins to LB, we have 4 RB's not named Austin White (who will RS). 

LB, which will play 2 guys mostly each game, has Bell, Fitzgerald, Demens, Jones and Jake Ryan as the non-seniors, since I'm assuming you didn't mean this year.  Now, let's compare Hopkins to the Jake Ryan, since you think Hopkins should take his spot:

Jake Ryan was more highly rated as a recruit by Rivals than Hopkins.  Jake Ryan has always played LB, Hopkins will be learning a new position.  Jake Ryan is 6'3", a frame much better suited for LB than 6'0".  One year above Hopkins we have Isaiah Bell and Mike Jones. 

I guess my question is, why do you think we have a lack of LB's, and why do you think Hopkins (a running back) would be better at that position than the guys we already have?  Especially when we don't have another RB like Hopkins and we aren't expecting one in the next class either?


August 20th, 2010 at 12:06 PM ^

I think Dave Birkett [a2-dot-com] reported Hopkins played at least some linebacker in high school.  i think I have read that from others, as well.  So, while hs lb is not as tough to play as college lb, he has played some. 

Secondly, our current "closer-to-inside" linebackers have struggled on occasion [Ezeh and Mouton].  And while we all have hopes for improvement from Demens and Fitzgerald, so far neither of them have been able to pass Ezeh and Mouton.  Mike Jones and Isaiah Bell appear to be still growing/putting on needed weight, so they have not been given many opportunities so far to play lb [in public].  So, if the coaches have reason to believe that the two inside spots are totally solid in the future with Demens, Bell, Jones, and later Ryan, then I have to agree Hopkins is not needed at lb.  But given what these lbs have shown [or have not been on the field to show] in the past, it is hard to feel good about the current lbs [or the defense].  I also think that a young man with Hopkins' size and speed [even with lack of height] might be a good rb-----but a terrific lb.

i admit that I am a total doofus about football compared to the actual Michigan coaches







August 19th, 2010 at 4:50 PM ^

He reminds me of Beanie Wells (god, I hated that guy)!  Maybe its the uniforms.  He runs upright like wells.  I think he's going to have a solid 4 year career here.


August 19th, 2010 at 4:51 PM ^

While I get a little bit of a chub watching him Hulk Rage on defenders, I don't see him contributing much. Think about it: RR's offense is built for a quick Joseph Addai-like slasher jackrabbit back. Hopkins is a great looking Carr back but unless it's 3rd and 1 or 3rd and goal from the 2, this kid doesn't see many carries. Futhermore, when he's in you almost always know it's going to be a run between the tackles just like you knew denard was going to run circa 2009. Predictability is counter-productive for this offense.


August 20th, 2010 at 10:15 AM ^

And not only that, but go back to Quincy Wilson (220 lbs.) and Kay-Jay Harris (either 235 or 245, I can't remember) at WVU and then tell me that this offense was built for quick little buggers.

In fact, it would be interesting to go back and look at the starting running backs while Rodriguez has been head coach.  I'd be willing to venture a bet that the majority of primary ballcarriers during his head coaching tenures (WVU, U-M) have been "big backs" (over 210 lbs.) and not small-ish ones.


August 24th, 2010 at 11:58 AM ^

"Stephen Hopkins has progressed really well. He's a big physical guy. Initially, the coaches thought he would redshirt, but he'll probably play this fall because the team needs a big back in some situations."


I never said that he wouldn't play. I said he would only be used in short yardage situations and not get too many carries. The system that we're running doesn't call for it.


August 24th, 2010 at 12:37 PM ^

The two most recent backs at WVU were Steve Slaton and Noel Devine, 200 lbs or less. Coincidently these two RB's account for the team's best record since 1988. Quincy Wilson was a product of Don Nehlen and Kay Jay was a transfer. Look at the backs that Rodriguez recruited and had national success with.


August 24th, 2010 at 12:23 PM ^

Rich Rodriguez's recent contributors at RB

Steve Slaton: 5'9" - 200 lbs

Noel Devine: 5'8" - 176 lbs

Sam McGuffie: 6'0" - 200 lbs

Michael Shaw: 6'1" - 187 lbs

Vincent Smith: 5'6" - 180 lbs


Lloyd Carr Converts at RB

Brandon Minor: 6'0" - 214 lbs after he slimmed down his senior year

Carlos Brown: 6'0" - 210 lbs


Stephen Hopkins - 6'0" - 235 lbs

Carr Converts such as Minor are 10-20 lbs heavier than guys recruited by rodriguez. The only reason Minor got the touches in RR's is because everyone else was banged up (True Frosh McGuffie started over him until he got banged up) or too inexperienced. You can't sit there and tell me that the Rodriguez offense uses a bigger back on a consistent basis based off Minor. He was a product of convenience and not of desire. Doubtful he would get recruited by Rodriguez. But you're right, I have no idea what Rodriguez's offense uses.

Yes, he looks like Minor. Does he get touches outside 3rd and short? Go back to 2008 and see how many touches minor got when McGuffie was healthy.


August 19th, 2010 at 5:54 PM ^

He seems like a guy who will get a few touches here and there in most games, but will go hog wild in 1-2 games against teams with poor interior run defense to the tune of 100+ yards.