Name: Stephen Hopkins
Weight: 227 lbs.
High school: Marcus High School in Flower Mound, TX
Position: Running back
Jersey number: #33
Last year: I ranked Hopkins #50 and said he would be a short yardage back. He carried the ball 37 times for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Hopkins outstripped my predictions a little bit, although probably not significantly enough to warrant a much higher ranking than #50. He was one of the primary backups to starters Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw. His two best games came against Illinois (45 yards, 1 touchdown) and Iowa (38 yards, 1 touchdown) and showed the ability to break some tackles. Overall, it was a solid debut season for the freshman from Texas.
Expectations have been raised, though. Some spring practice observers suggest that Hopkins is the front-runner for the starting job, but I still have questions about whether he has the speed to be a featured running back. There’s no question that he has a place on the team, perhaps even as the starting fullback on a team that lacks one. Al Borges has been known to use split backs in a West Coast Offense manner, handing off to him up the gut or tossing the ball to him on swing passes. In an effort to get the best athletes on the field, I think it would behoove the Wolverines to use Hopkins as a fullback and only a part-time tailback. I look for big plays out of a tailback, and Hopkins isn’t the type of runner who can break off a 70-yarder at any given time. He has lost nine pounds since last season (when he was 236), and there have been hints that the coaches want him in the 220-225 lb. range. If that potential weight loss leads to a little extra pep in his step, that would be a good thing for his prospects as a runner.
Prediction: Starting fullback, part-time tailback; 50 carries, 200 yards, 5 touchdowns
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