Trent Edwards isn't the only local product making waves in this redshirt freshman class, as strong safety Trevor Hooper is set to make his second start in as many college games this Saturday. The athlete from Mountain View High School did not pick up a lot of press during his recruitment two years ago, but he has made an impact on the field ever since he signed with the Cardinal.
Hooper raised a lot of eyebrows with his fearless play in the secondary last year on the scout team, showing speed and ferocity as both a run-stopper and in pass coverage. Many Stanford fans were surprised that he was named a leading candidate for the starting SS spot coming out of the spring, given the frame and athleticism that redshirt sophomore Timi Wusu (also local, from Palo Alto) possesses. Hooper faced some doubts a month ago when he went through a rocky start to training camp.
"It was all mental," he recalls from those opening weeks of August. "I put such high expectations on myself, and I found myself thinking about a lot of things. I was thinking too much. It was getting to me."
With the strong safety position seemingly wide open at the end of the third week of camp, Hooper looked to make a turnaround during an on-field audition at the "joint practice" against visiting UC Davis. That scrimmage showed very well for the Mountain View product, and it did more than just boost the confidence the coaches had in him. "I felt like I really played well in the scrimmage, and my confidence has been building ever since," he comments. "Success in games is something you can't ever get in practices."
And though Hooper played so well on the scout team last year, the experience does not carry over as well as fans might think. In fact, time spent on the scout team is explicitly directed toward learning another team's plays and schemes. "Last year there weren't really plays to learn," Hooper notes. "I would go in the huddle and just look at the card for what formation and play to run, one at a time. It was all about reacting."
"There's also a different mindset in practices," he continues. "You just hang loose and make plays on the scout team, but now there are a bunch of things to think about. You are a part of the defense on the field that determines games. And that is how you think through the practice week. But that scrimmage got me loose, and then the San Jose State game was great. I looked around and I had the same guys playing next to me, and the same plays we run in practice. Just go out there and do your job."
Hooper is tied for the team lead in tackles, making four solos and two assists. Two of his tackles in Stanford's single game were behind the line of scrimmage.
Other strong safety news: Timi Wusu is recovering from the strained knee he suffered in the San Jose State game, though he is doubtful for Saturday's game in Provo. Wusu moved from a hard immobilizing brace to a playing brace Wednesday and wore it again today. But he may still be a week away from playing condition. This week's official depth chart reflected the injury by putting Wusu third at the position. Indeed it will be Hooper and true freshman Brandon Harrison who will take the field at SS this weekend.
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