North Carolina signee Tyrone Hopper is determined to see the field this coming season. As such, he has used the past months bulking up – with a lot of success.
“I want to be ready to play when I get there,” Hopper said. “They wanted me to be at 215-220. But I passed that pretty easy. Now I’m just trying to get around 230.”
When Roswell (Ga.) High’s season ended in mid-December, Hopper checked in at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. He has since added 20 lbs. to that frame.
“Really, I just changed my eating habits,” Hopper said. “I eat, maybe, six times a day. And I make sure I work out every single day and drink protein shakes every single day.”
Hopper’s workout routine is a combination of the packet UNC sent him and Roswell’s offseason training.
“My coach is a trainer, too, so he’s been helping me a lot and he pretty much does the same thing,” Hopper said.
In addition to eating well and working out, Hopper has worked on his mental game as much as possible. The primary tool was UNC’s spring game in April.
“On our way up there, my dad was like, ‘I want you to watch the defense and watch the linebackers and watch what they do; so when you get there you’ll know what to do coming in,’” Hopper said. “So that was my whole focus coming up there.
“I think I’ll fit in pretty well. I just have to get a complete understanding of what they’re doing and the calls.”
The UNC coaches have taken notice to Hopper's preparation. As a result, he has been penciled into the depth chart behind Cayson Collins, Hopper says.
“[John Papuchis] said he wants me to play – rotate in,” Hopper said. “I just have to learn all the plays and stuff. On third downs, they want me in the ‘cheetah package’ [and] rushing off the edge.”
During his senior season at Roswell, Hopper was asked to blitz off the edge a lot. He ended with 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, and nine QB hurries for a team that went undefeated until losing in the championship of Georgia’s highest classification.
Hopper is unsure what number he’ll wear at UNC. He was hoping to keep his high school number, No. 41. But, it was quickly occupied by JuCo transfer J.B. Copeland this spring.
“Since I can’t have No. 41, I want a lower digit number,” Hopper said. “But I want to earn it – I don’t want it just given to me.”
Hopper, who says he’s made it through UNC admissions and the NCAA Eligibility Center unscathed, plans to major in business with a concentration on marketing.
“Being with my dad, he’s been a business person his whole life,” Hopper said. “So, I guess I just want to follow in his footsteps.”
On June 14, Hopper will report to UNC – just in time for the second summer semester.
“I’m just ready to get up there and get acclimated with the program, really,” Hopper said. “I want to get the feel for how college is going to be. And I want to learn more of the game so that I can get on the field.”