Hello: Stephen Hopkins

Submitted by Brian on April 13th, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Texas running back Stephen Hopkins did, as threatened, commit to Michigan over the weekend. Brace yourselves for Ohio State uniforms:

stephen-hopkins 

GURU RATINGS & CHATTER

Scout Rivals ESPN
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.

And then:

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.

OFFERS

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.

STATS

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.

VIDEO

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.

Etc.: A lot of content at Prep Ticket on Hopkins. TomVH interviewed him just a couple weeks ago.

Comments

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

April 13th, 2009 at 4:25 PM ^

When I think Stephen Hopkins I think: "well-meaning, but cantankerous, maverick politician and drunkard, whose force of personality helps keep the Continental Congress together," as in 1776. That may make me a giant nerd but it also allows me the small pleasure of hoping Hopkins will shout "RUM!!" at some poor overworked student manager on the sidelines.

jfox

April 13th, 2009 at 5:16 PM ^

In watching the video of Hopkins run I thought of two players in recent Michigan history. The first was BJ Askew circa 2002 when he played at HB because Chris Perry was in Lloyd's doghouse. He had a great game against MSU running for 150 in the 49-3 win. The other player I thought of was Anthony Thomas in his style of bull you over but also takes great angles to negate some lack of speed. I know Thomas was a lot higher ranked coming out of HS and came in to contribute as a freshman on the NC team - but Hopkins has a similar style.
I think Askew and Thomas are better comparisons than Minor.

marco dane

April 13th, 2009 at 5:44 PM ^

What former wolverine I'm reminded of...L Hoard. Maybe not the speed out of a cut...but the same determine running ability and the same angle type of running style. I like what I saw when this kid get to the next level...arm tackles aren't going to take me down guys. Need to keep those pads down when approaching the line.

Another nice piece to the puzzle,imo.

goblue1962

April 13th, 2009 at 5:52 PM ^

Wahoo, that doesn't make you a nerd. I makes you a well bred individual with excellent taste. A man who "has never seen nor heard nor smelled an issue so dangerous it couldn't be talked about!"

Ok, now I am off to the necessary. You'd think Congress would have its own.

Ziff72

April 13th, 2009 at 6:35 PM ^

I'm a little more excited about Hop. I thought he looked good on film. Powere backs don't give you the Mcguffie Mix tapes, but football is not about hurdles, most of the time it is about getting the extra yard when it's not there and picking up the 1st down. I saw hard running with kust a hint of wiggle. Perry and Minor are good comparisons......they worked out pretty well. Give him 2 years with Barwis and we might have somrthing dangerous. Plus he fits a need perfectly.

Magnus

April 13th, 2009 at 8:29 PM ^

He fills a need. And I will be surprised if he isn't a 4-star by the end of the recruiting process. He's put up 1600+ yards in consecutive years - against good competition - and he's still got a year to go. If he can add a little bit to his speed/acceleration, I think this kid will be good.

SFBayAreaBlue

April 13th, 2009 at 11:23 PM ^

who have verbally committed tend to fall in the rankings. so unless he puts up some big stats, closer to 200 ypg, and does a lot of camps and allstar games, I wouldn't be surprised to see him stay a 3 star.

But that says more about the system than the kid.

SFBayAreaBlue

April 13th, 2009 at 11:20 PM ^

except you're selling perry a little short. He was a burner. He could get to the corner in a blink of an eye. I miss those days of having a goal line back where you could rest assured he would outrun anyone to the pylon.

matty blue

April 14th, 2009 at 11:03 AM ^

...and when you mentioned getting the extra yard, the first guy i thought of was another 3-star - mike hart. obviously, the comparisons end there, as hart was small, not a burner, and had a pretty spectacular mix tape. but he always seemed to be falling forward, too, which in my opinion was his greatest asset. if this guy can do the same...

iawolve

April 13th, 2009 at 8:30 PM ^

drop his 40 time a bit. He has nice power, but people are faster at the next level. Granted, he was getting chased down by 5A Texas players, but I would like to see some better top end. I think he shows some good promise. Just because of the body type and uniform, he screams Beanie Wells, but he would be a much slower version.

Question: Minor was considered a fullback in HS. If he was graded as a straight tailback, would that have lowered his rating? I was not sure if being compared to fullbacks helped him.

Seth

April 13th, 2009 at 9:06 PM ^

I know it's a cheap shot to go after a kid's uniform. I mean, what say does he have over whether his school makes him wear pink polka-dotted dresses, let alone this ungodly getup!

But this isn't just a bad football uniform. It's a direct insult to the students who are made to wear it.

I think perhaps we have a better recruit than we think here. Consider this: this kid picked up all those numbers while dressed like a sugar plum fairy whose head got stuck in a drill bit press, and that's before they covered his helmet with stickers of a shriveled, hairless nut.

Think back to high school. What you wore was important. If you felt you looked ridiculous, you'd get self-conscious, and you wouldn't perform to the best of your abilities.

I think if you put this guy in a real football uniform, with a sleek helmet and bruisin navy blue jersey, you'd see a side of Stephen Hopkins that would make Pequots shudder.

As for his school, I aim to write a strongly worded letter about this putrid, hateful, barbaric method of trying to break the will of their young teenage football players by dressing them in overstriped, half-technicolor clown costumes. I know it's Texas, but hasn't our society come too far for us to tolerate a school putting young people in such unbecoming, un-dignifying outfits?

SFBayAreaBlue

April 13th, 2009 at 11:17 PM ^

The comments are dead on about the downhill runner part. But that might be as much part of the scheme, looked like they were running I-form Iso's so there's a designed hole for him to go to. So I can't really gauge his vision or his lateral cuts. But he has a really good pad level when running through the muck, and then extends and accelerates once he gets to the secondary.

Also noticed a lack of breakaway speed for the college level. But he seems like a good bet to be introducing himself to DB's frequently.

Good body control and balance. He's not going to be ankle tackled, and he bounces off contact with a lot of forward momentum.

Maybe it's the jersey, but he kind of reminds me of eddie george or beanie wells, minus about two notches off the top end speed.

I'd like to see what he can do as a blocker because he might be doing a lot of that out of split backs. Can he pickup a blitz? And we've got no indication as to his hands.

So those things, along with his speed are some things for him to work on once he gets here. But I'm pretty enthused. He looks like a great fit with us losing Minor and Grady this year.

UNCWolverine

April 13th, 2009 at 11:28 PM ^

I'm actually pleasantly surprised by his film. I was expecting more of a TJ Duckett type but this kid actually seems more fleet of foot. He does seem like he could be more of an ATrain or Hoard type. I agree with the other poster, if this kid can pick up a little speed via Barwiss and not just simply get heavier, as he would have surely done with Gittelwhatever, he could be a pretty damn good back.

Also, It's refreshing to me to see that RR and staff still want these types of backs on the team. I figured after Minor graduated we'd see nothing but 5'8" 170 burners in the backfield for years to come. Nothing wrong with a little thunder to go along with all of that lightning.

Good pick up.

www.BlockONation.com

April 14th, 2009 at 3:49 AM ^

Those have to be the BEST H.S. Uniforms EVER! Too bad he chose to go from the best looking uni's in H.S. to the worst one in college, LOL!

As far as the kid goes, he looks like he's a decent runner, at least in H.S.

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BlockO-CEO

AjohnGoBlue

April 14th, 2009 at 12:18 PM ^

I like Hop, he runs good and can find the hole well. He runs like a smaller Chris Wells, and we all know how that worked out aginst the big ten. Give 2 years and he will be as good of a back as Grady is. And what ugly uniforms for a Texas team!