Hoover's Next Horses

Hoover High School has always had exceptional athletes that have often led to state championships, and the 2012 season was no different. But the school's class of 2015 may be one of the most talent-laden in the program's history.

Most high school football or recruiting fans know the name Marlon Humphrey very well. He's the rising senior star defensive back and elite hurdler from Hoover (Ala.) High School. The five-star prospect helped lead the Bucs to the Class 6A state championship in December and notched an interception during the 31-0 rout over Opelika (Ala.).

While the Alabama legacy certainly headlines the class of 2014 at the school, it's the class of 2015 at Hoover that is turning heads.

A handful of juniors already possess major BCS offers, including some from within the SEC.

Christian Bell and Darrell Williams lead that junior class on defense while Bradrick Shaw and Justin Johnson each turn heads on the other side of the ball. All four have offers from Mississippi State and both Bell and Williams holds multiple SEC offers.

Among the group of the four SEC-caliber athletes, there's a common denominator according to Hoover Head Coach Josh Niblett.

"It's a really, really good group and it's kind of a diversified group," he explained. "Everybody wants to start talking about Marlon, but these guys have come onto the scene, and the one thing you see in person is that they have a lot of length to them. They're longer guys, they can run and they have a lot of range in what they can do. And they're great kids.

"We talk about staying humble and staying hungry, and they do that. They work tremendously hard and they understand what we're doing. They're athleticism enables them to take it to the next level."

Bell (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) played a crucial role on the edge for Hoover in its 2012 title run, starting as a sophomore, as did Williams (6-3, 199) at linebacker – where he's expected to be among the state's best in 2013. Williams' length and range make him ideal to combat spread offenses at the next level and he covers ground as well as any linebacker in coverage at his age. He was a standout at both the Auburn summer camp as well as the National Select 7-on-7 Championships in back-to-back weeks last month.

Shaw can test defenses as a runner or receiver.

On the offense, Johnson (6-3, 192) made heads turned on vertical routes, and he did the same at Mississippi State's Big Dawg camp in July en route to earning an offer. Shaw (6-1 ½, 198) saw part-time duty as a sophomore behind title game MVP Calen Campbell, but Niblett says he has all the tools to be special.

"When Bradrick was a freshman, we pulled him up and he worked with us (on varsity)," said the coach. "He learned the speed of the game a little bit quicker. When he was a sophomore, the game slowed down for him and now he understands that being a running back isn't just about running. He understands the whole concept, pass-protection and has maybe some of the best hands on the team.

"To be a 6-2, over 200-pound running back is special. He's a great kid, too."

While each young prospect impresses physically, the work each has put in to try and maintain Hoover as the gold standard of high school football within the state is what has impressed most.

"They know it's great, but their number one goal is to leave out of here with three rings on their fingers, sophomore (2012), junior and senior year," Niblett added. "To a head coach, that's something special because everything else is going to take care of itself."

As if the foursome wasn't enough in the class to paint a positive picture at Hoover for at least the next two years, there may be a few more names to eye in the 2015 group going forward.

"We've got a quarterback in that class, too, Jack Hutcheson, that's a good player and a couple of linemen, too," said Niblett. "It's not just the guys with offers, there's more guys so I'm excited about that group."

Just when one thinks Hoover can't possibly hold more talent, a quick glance at the 2016 class already features a pair of prospects in cornerback Jermarius Jordan and linebacker Jeremiah Moon – each already with at least one SEC offer to his name.

Scout Football Top Stories