Hopper Has N.C. Roots

ROSWELL, Ga. --- Given the intensity of the rivalry and the atmosphere of the Smith Center, it’s difficult to enhance the experience of being in attendance of the North Carolina-Duke basketball game. But the UNC coaching staff found a way for Tyrone Hopper.

“They offered me during the game,” Hopper said. “My parents and I were just sitting there and Coach [Gene] Chizik called me over and was like ‘I just want you to know you’re leaving with a full scholarship.’ That was very exciting.”

UNC was the ninth school to offer Hooper, a 6-foot-3, 186-pound linebacker from Roswell (Ga.) High, a scholarship. Cincinnati, Georgia State, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech were the eight predecessors.

“I like all the schools, because I just started receiving offers,” Hopper said. “I don’t really have one that’s sticking out.”

While many 2016 prospects emerged from the 2014 season with offers in hand, Memphis extended Hopper his first offer in late January.

Hopper’s visit to UNC for the junior day/basketball game against Duke was somewhat of a homecoming. He was born in Shelby and spent his first eight years there before he and his parents made the move to Roswell.

“All my family is in North Carolina,” Hopper said. “A lot of them play for Shelby High School on the football team.”

Could Hopper return to the Tar Heel State for his college years?

“I want to see how it plays out first,” Hopper said. “I want to go back and get some more visits in and look into it more and get a feel for the campus more.”

With that said, Hopper admitted that his recent UNC visit made him “like them more.” In particular, he enjoyed the activities the staff scheduled prior to escorting the junior day visitors to the Smith Center.

“They were very welcoming,” Hopper said. “Like when we came in, instead of having us do the regular tour, they had us walk down like it was college game day. And then they had a corn hole tournament, but me and my partner [Kobe Smith] lost.”

The night, of course, ended with the UNC-Duke basketball game.

“It was very loud – it was very loud,” Hopper said. “It was my first time watching a basketball game at North Carolina. It was a great atmosphere.”

The day also provided Hopper his first opportunity to meet and speak with UNC’s new linebackers coach, John Papuchis. Normally, he communicates with his primary recruiter Larry Porter.

“They run a 4-3 and they said they like my length at outside linebacker,” Hopper said. “So they really want to get me on the field and see what I can do.”

It’s been well-documented that UNC is switching from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Ironically, Roswell employs a 4-2-5 where it utilizes Hopper at both Bandit and WILL linebacker depending on the situation. In that role as a junior, he accumulated 113 tackles, four sacks, and 24 pass breakups.

“He’s athletic, rangey, physical, and he can bend and move real well,” Roswell head coach John Ford said.

In addition to UNC, Hopper has visited NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. In a couple of weeks, he plans to travel to Tennessee for a spring practice. He’s also in the process of scheduling a trip to Florida for his spring break.

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