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.