"Domonic was very impressed by Nashville and the Vanderbilt coaching staff," according to his head coach Dan Bland. "His mother has always stressed academics, and that's a big part of what he's looking for in a school. He was impressed with the deans and professors he met up there."
But Hopson's final decision may not come until much closer to signing day. Hopson plans upcoming visits to Southern Miss and Mississippi State, and has been in talks with Clemson recently, said Bland.
"He's just beginning the process, so he's looking forward to going to the other places too. I think he will continue to take visits right up until the last weekend. One of his visits is set up for the last weekend before signing day."
Hurricane Katrina forced Hopson and most of his teammates to seek refuge elsewhere for a while in September. Hopson went to live for a few weeks with relatives in Jackson -- and a few schools actually tried to "recruit" him to stay and play football there. But when Pascagoula High School reopened some four weeks after the hurricane, Hopson returned and helped the Panthers finish with a 3-5 mark in a shortened season.
On offense he saw limited use as a fullback/tailback. But colleges want Hopson as a linebacker, and Bland said whichever one secures him will be getting a prize.
"He's big, strong, and fast.... smart and aggressive... all the things you'd want. Plus, he's a gentleman, just the way you hope all your players would be. He'll be a great college student.
"He's an excellent student. He's in the Top 20 in his class. He's been qualified since his sophomore year. He just takes a lot of pride in everything he does, and it carries over to the football field."
Hopson was recently named the region's Most Valuable Defensive Player by the Biloxi Sun-Herald, and it's easy to see why. In just eight games, he recorded a phenomenal 143 tackles (90 of them solo), 9 quarterback hurries and 7 sacks.
"Oh yeah, he's a sideline-to-sideline guy," Bland said. "We're going to miss him."
Hopson has an older brother Trey who signed last year with Rice.
With seven weeks to go until Signing Day 2006, Vanderbilt's commitment count stands at 16. The Commodores hosted nine prospects last weekend, including five who were already committed, but there were no new commitments.