While some would think redshirt freshman Adam Hampton is where he is now because of his older brother Zach, a four-time letterwinner at Wisconsin from 2003 to 2006, those people haven't seen the potential Adam Hampton has.
A standout athlete at Lancaster High School who worked hard last season on the scout team, Hampton spent the offseason learning the defensive schemes and has spent the majority of spring workouts showing what he learned on the third-team defense at the safety position.
While it might be a year or two before Wisconsin fans see him at that position, Hampton is working hard, and lobbying the coaches, to get an opportunity on special team, a position he told Badger Nation would be an absolute thrill to be a part of next season.
BN: Talk about your time at Lancaster. I heard it was an interesting time how the coaches ran the system. Can you talk about what all happened in high school?
Adam Hampton: We're a small school and everything and people think you play both ways. Our coaching was dead set on a two platoon and I think that helped us out very well on both sides of the ball because we were very fresh. Our defense was never run down or tired and our offense was always running powerful. But my time at Lancaster went really well, everything was great, I got as many opportunities that I could get and it helped me out. Obviously with my brother coming here, it helped me out but it also, the legacy of Lancaster, the five state championships in seven years, brought a lot of attention for recruiting wise and different schools. Getting to state, the coaches can see you on the field and gives them an opportunity to see you. Everything went well, I think, in Lancaster.
BN: How did the recruiting process go with Wisconsin? When did they first pop up on your radar? Obviously they knew you because of your brother, Zach, but when did they first start showing a legitimate interest?
Adam Hampton: Probably my sophomore year. I got letters from them asking me how I was doing and showing me the program and talking to me. They invited me to come to summer camp and Coach Bielema was one of the ones, he has just come here as the defensive coordinator, who showed a lot of interest in me. He would always come up and ask how I was doing, watch my individual drills and everything and that's when it first started.
It just continued all the way through. They invited me to junior day, for football games, talk to me a lot and the letters just kept coming in. Coach Bostad came to my school a few times my senior year to talk to me, gave me calls over a periodic time, once every two weeks or so.
BN: As a walk on, did you get any scholarship offers from anywhere else?
Adam Hampton: South Dakota offered me a full ride and there was a thing with Princeton, since they couldn't give out scholarships, where boosters give out money to athletes. I am not sure if that's correct but they were leaning towards me, as well. North Dakota State was leaning toward a half scholarship but other than that, no full scholarship offers were out there.
BN: Were you pretty set on Wisconsin whether you would get a scholarship or not since you are from the state and your family has ties to school or did you consider the other schools?
Adam Hampton: Well my heart was set on Wisconsin but I was still out there looking for the best opportunity for me. Obviously I want to play and everything, but I was still looking at my options and I felt Wisconsin was the best fit for me.
BN: What did your redshirt year do for you in terms of your progression?
Adam Hampton: It helped out immensely. I am happy that I did and it helped me understand the defense and prepare mentally for the college level. It's a big step from the high school level. The speed of play changes greatly and you understand where you are supposed to place yourself. The run fits, the defenses, everything, it helps a lot.
BN: Did you spend a lot of time in the weight room trying to get stronger or did you spend more time in the classroom learning the defensive schemes?
Adam Hampton: I did everything towards the weight room. I've increased everything, all my lifting, my strength and I am actually a lot leaner than I was in high school. That helps out a lot and it's helped with a lot of speed. Where we work on mobility and stretching, that's a great thing because it keeps your body well and you get to fight through the pain and everything. Weight room wise, I am gaining weight now. In the last three or four weeks I have gained about five pounds. I am a lot leaner, my body fat has decreased a lot and I think that's helped out a lot. At the same time, I was learning the defense, looking over the playbook, watching film and trying to understand and be ready mentally for the game, too.
BN: How did scout team go for you last year? A lot of people don't like it but I don't think you were one of them.
Adam Hampton: I enjoyed it a lot because you are going against the best. They are the number ones and it is just like you are in an actual game play if you think about it. Every week you run a different defense and it's a different way to play our offense and it gives them an opportunity, if you give them a good look, they come prepared for the game play. I really enjoyed it a lot.
BN: What have you all been working on during spring camp so far? What have you all done to prepare yourself for the season?
Adam Hampton: We're actually going back to basics like we're starting over again. We've made a few changes in the defense for the safeties, different run fits and everything. We're installing everything like we did in day one and two of fall camp. We're putting in the defense as it comes in. So, it's just that. It's repetitiveness and that's something that we'll understand and know for good.
BN: What about you personally? What teams are you all working with?
Adam Hampton: A lot with the threes and sometimes with the twos. But it's mostly with the threes. I take what's given to me but I obviously want to try my hardest and want to get up to the twos or the ones. I have two great athletes in front of me, Aubrey Pleasant and Jay Valai. They are doing very well. They rotate with the ones and twos. I would like to have a chance at the twos but at the threes, I can take my mental reps and when I get my chance, make plays from where I am at.
BN: When you look at what the spring and summer camp can do for you, how does that motivate you knowing that you are building up to replace the great athletes in front of you and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel?
Adam Hampton: It motivates me a lot that someday, you can be in that position and you're up there with people relying on you. That's what drives me – the responsibility, the role that you have to play and how we all fit together. That really motivates me and I want to be there some day. I want to be that guy.
BN: Do you talk to Zach a lot and what do you guys usually talk about? Is it more football related or other things?
Adam Hampton: We talk about football and about what happens in practice. Sometimes he comes to the practice and tells me what I can improve on. It helps out a lot, too. It gives you that extra voice, that extra coach that can help you out and he's been through it. He just tells me to stick with it, read my keys, do everything right and it helps out a lot.
BN: What is the biggest thing he has taught you in the last year and a half?
Adam Hampton: He's taught me to be patient. When you come from a small school where you are a great athlete, one of the best, you get all that playing time, he's taught me to be patient. It will come. Work on trying to make it on special teams and the defense will come. Just keeping working hard and keep giving it your all.
BN: Have you made a push for the special teams? Have you done a lot of special teams stuff?
Adam Hampton: During the spring, we haven't done a lot of special teams work. We have just done punt and I am on the scout punt return rushing the line. This year, that's one of my main goals is try to make it on special teams, trying to give the coaches a look that they can trust me on special teams. That's where I want to start out. It gets me a chance to feel the game. I am a guy that would give it all on a kickoff at anytime just to be on that field.
BN: Have you expressed your interest to the coaching staff and if so, what was the response?
Adam Hampton: They said that they'll take it as it comes, we'll see what's going on and see if it's the best fit for special teams. Other than that, we haven't really gone over it on special teams this spring so I am not sure what's going to happen.
BN: You have summer conditioning and then fall camp and then the home opener. How much have you circled that home opener to be able to run out onto that field for the first time?
Adam Hampton: Really, I take it day by day. I think about the next day, sitting down with the playbook, looking over the plays, try to remember the install of that day and remember it. I am looking forward to that very much so. Really, that's one of the most exciting things to do but I take it day by day and try to improve. It's kind of like the 1-0 mentality. That's my motto.