Bowden played role in commitment

CENTRAL - Granted Tommy Bowden isn't a fan favorite at Clemson, but if it wasn't for the former Clemson coach's eye for talent, verbal commitment DeAndre Hopkins might be a pledge to the Wake Forest basketball program instead of looking forward to his future at Clemson.

"DeAndre is one of the more loyal and mature kids that you will meet," Hopkins' and Daniel High School's head coach Randy Robinson said Thursday.

Bowden noticed Hopkins, who gave his commitment to Clemson on March 7, when the 6-foot-2, 174-pound prospect was a freshman. Hopkins amazed Bowden and Robinson when he took over the Lions' annual spring football game that year.

"It's hard not to notice DeAndre when he is on the field," Robinson said.

Bowden, who was at the spring game to watch current defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, was impressed with the way Hopkins ran the zone-read option offense and was making everyone look silly, including Jenkins.

"Coach Bowden looked at me and said, 'he is just 14,'" Robinson recalled.

That's the day Clemson first showed interest in Hopkins, and the four-star athlete, who is being recruited by just about everyone in the country, hasn't forgotten that.

"A lot of people don't know this, but Wake Forest offered me a scholarship to play basketball before my sophomore season," Hopkins said. "That was my first offer, but I remember Clemson talking to me first and if Coach Bowden had not noticed me then, I might be a commitment to the Wake Forest basketball team instead of Clemson football."

Hopkins has the talent to play both sports, but he says his heart is now in football and he looks forward to being a Clemson Tiger. The rising senior said his commitment to Clemson is "100 percent."

"It's pretty definite," he said. "The coaches, the whole offensive scheme and everything, I'm loving it right now. I feel like I fit in."

Hopkins, who has 23 career interceptions on defense, said he made his commitment to Clemson because of the coaching staff's honesty.

"They just kind of talked to me and said, 'whether we get you or not, we are still going to be successful and we are still going to be a good team. We want you on this boat and we feel like we can make you a better player.' A lot of coaches can say that, but a lot of coaches will not do that," Hopkins said. "I feel like I'm very comfortable at Clemson and around the coaches and the players.

"I have talked to a lot of the players and they just told me how Clemson treats you and how the coaches look out for you and make sure you get your grades and school work done and how they help them become better men. I like that."

Though schools like Alabama, LSU, Georgia Tech and South Carolina still call to ask about and send letters to Hopkins, the two-time football and basketball Area Player of the Year and Western AAA Player of the Year says his recruiting process is done. He does not plan to take any official visits to any other school.

"I'm done," he said.

To show its commitment to him, Clemson running backs coach Andre' Powell recently visited Robinson and asked him to tell Hopkins that Clemson was committed to him as well.

"Coach Powell made a point that the first school he went to was Daniel to let DeAndre know that the Clemson commitment was strong to him," Robinson said. "I think that was good for DeAndre to know that."

Last year, Hopkins caught 29 passes for 539 yards and eight scores in a part-time capacity at wide receiver. He is also the Tigers No. 1 prospect at defensive back after he registered 37 tackles and nine interceptions from his cornerback position after leading the Lions to a second straight Western AAA Championship and a 13-1 record.

He set the state record for interceptions as a sophomore with 14.

As mentioned, Hopkins is also a star player on the basketball court where he has won All-Area Player of the Year status as well as Region Player of the Year and All-State honors.

This past year, the Class AAA Player of the Year took the Lions to the third round of the state playoffs and a second straight region title, while averaging 18.8 points, 6.8 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game.

Clemson basketball coach Oliver Purnell, according to Robinson, has said Hopkins is welcome to walk-on to the basketball team if he chooses to do so.
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