Since picking up an offer from Arkansas on Feb. 25, the Pulaski Robinson athlete has added another school to his growing list nearly other day.
Hammonds, who boasted offers from Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Tulsa and Vanderbilt before the Razorbacks, now has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Duke and Oklahoma State.
The last couple of weeks have confirmed a prediction made by Pulaski Robinson linebackers and strength and conditioning coach Brian Maupin last summer: that Hammonds had a chance to be the state of Arkansas’ biggest prospect in 2016.
“I think he’s a very unique and special prospect,” Maupin said. “He has a rare combination of football ability, character and academics. That makes a kid easy to offer.”
While Hammonds’ emergence was not a surprise to Maupin, most fans – and college coaches – were shocked by his breakout season in 2014.
As a sophomore, Hammonds rushed for about 600 yards and six touchdowns. After an offseason with Maupin, those numbers jumped to 2,024 yards of offense and 18 total touchdowns on 99 touches.
He also had 19 solo tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one blocked field goal and 220 yards on seven returns (kickoff and punt combined).
That means Hammonds – who will visit Arkansas on Saturday – averaged 21.2 yards every time he touched the ball.
“I think it directly correlates to the offseason he had,” Maupin said. “Few players in my coaching years have worked as hard as T.J. did. He didn’t hit the lottery; he earned it.”
Maupin said that Hammonds would wake up at 5 a.m. and go with him to pick up other players for morning workouts, then would stay after school to workout more.
That work ethic has not changed with the recent influx of offers. Because he will play more running back in 2015, Maupin said he and Hammonds are focusing on increasing his speed while also putting on more weight.
Hammonds has supplemented a healthy diet with protein shakes. This will help his explosiveness and flexibility.
“I’m excited to see the numbers and performances he puts up next year,” Maupin said. “He’s going to be even better. That’s a scary thought for those on the other side of our schedule.”
With nine offers, Hammonds has gone on record saying that he’ll take his time with his decision.
That falls in line with Maupin’s advice to him.
“(I’ve told him) just take it all in and see the opportunities as a blessing,” Maupin said. “He’ll take his time and be responsible. He’s not going to be the kind of kid to de-commit. That’s why it may take a little longer than people would like.”