Whatever you do...don't let the backwards hat fool you. Defensive backs who didn't already know about 2016 Lexington wide receiver Jayson Hopper already found out the hard way on Saturday in Spartanburg at the 2015 EPT Football Skills Showcase. Let's just say it was a coronation or coming out party for the 6'1 200 pound prospect from the Midlands.
Don't get us wrong we knew Hopper had college level talent a year ago and so did Appalachian State as they were his first offer. They remain his sole offer to this point but its the work he's put in since we last saw him in person almost a year ago that has impressed us the most. Add ten pounds of lean muscle, improved speed, and dazzling body control and after what we saw on Saturday we expect more schools to offer Hopper once they see him workout in person. We caught up with him a day after the event to talk about what his upcoming plans are and where things stand with his recruitment currently.
So what did the Lexington prospect think about both schools, what did he like, and what have the coaching staffs said to him?
"I loved it up there at Wake Forest. It was small and everything was together. My favorite part was probably being around the football stadium, the locker room, weight room, and being able to go on the field. The coaches told me they enjoyed my film and wanna see me up at camp in June."
"Clemson feels like home and feels like a place I could see myself at. I loved everything about Clemson. The whole trip was my favorite actually. Everything up there is just different than any other place. The coaches told me I'll get my opportunity at camp in June."
To go along with the aforementioned schools there are a few others Hopper says he'd like to hear more from soon.
The transformation in Hopper since we saw him last year showed on the field at the Showcase on Saturday. Like we said he got the best of every defensive back he faced on multiple occassions and the two or three times he didn't make the catch it was the throw by his quarterback that made it uncatchable. He talked about what he feels is the biggest change in his game since a season ago.
"Speed. I've gotten a whole lot faster than a year ago and working on it to help create separation on my routes."
That speed, 10 more pounds of muscle, and a mindset heading into the Showcase paid big dividends. He was named a Top 10 wide receiver at the event. (No rankings or favorites were announced by the coaching staff.) He got our vote as the top dog there though outshining fellow 2016 prospect Christian Bruce from Wilson High who holds an offer from NC State and Navy already.
"I just wanted to prove myself basically. I've been underestimated since I started playing football and I went in there with the mindset of coming out being the best there."
Facing some of the top defensive backs in the state Hopper talked about the EPT Football Skills Showcase in its first year.
"I loved the showcase. I got a lot of exposure from coaches and it was really competitive. I thought Khris Pam balled out and Nick McCloud from South Pointe did too. Nick was the hardest defensive back to go up against to me."
A junior season that saw him make 55 catches for 650 yards, gaining 1,000 all-purpose yards, and score 8 touchdowns for the Wildcats. His goals are set even higher for his senior season next year.
"I'd like to get at least 1,000 receiving yards and score 10 or more touchdowns next season."
He says that his relationship with college coaches, how he likes the campus, and how far away from home a school is will play a role in decision making process. He plans on taking his official visits before even considering making a decision.
Don't be surprised to see Hopper land some offers at various school camps this off season, he's already taken his game to another level competing against some of the very best defensive backs in the Palmetto State on Saturday and coming out making a big name for himself. Now he's wanting to do it in front of college coaches so he can add to his offer resume. After the event in Spartanburg the likes of the state's #1 rated prospect, Spartanburg running back Tavien Feaster and current Clemson freshman quarterback Kelly Bryant were all showing their love for the talented wideout from Lexington via Twitter. Add us to that list as well...
Stay tuned as we'll have more with Hopper moving forward regarding his recruitment.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS...JAYSON HOPPER
Bench press: 275 pounds
Squat: 440 pounds
Power clean: 270 pounds
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