Stephen Hopkins, Ex-Wolverine

Tag: Stephen Hopkins

4Dec 2012
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Stephen Hopkins, Ex-Wolverine

Spring 2010: Walk-on Phil Monolo, Stephen Hopkins, Michael Shaw, coach Fred Jackson,
Fitzgerald Toussaint, John McColgan, and Vincent Smith

Junior fullback Stephen Hopkins has left the football program.  He tweeted that he would get his degree from Michigan.  Hopkins was recruited by former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez to play tailback in the spread offense, but he was just occasionally effective as a runner.  As a freshman in 2010, he had 37 carries for 151 yards (4.1 yards/carry) and 4 touchdowns.  When Brady Hoke arrived in 2011, that signaled a move to fullback for Hopkins, who proceeded to run just 11 times for 43 yards (3.9 yards/carry) as a sophomore, along with 1 catch for 28 yards.  Hopkins played as a blocking fullback in 2012 but never touched the ball.  Altogether, he ends his Michigan career with 48 carries for 194 yards (4.0 yards/carry) and 4 touchdowns, with that 1 reception for 28 yards added on.

Hopkins’s departure is one of the losses that I had heard to be rumored last offseason.  Hopkins seemed not to be thrilled with the fullback’s role in the offense, since he came to Michigan to be a tailback.  He decided to give it one more go in 2012, but his commitment seemed to be iffy.  He lost playing time to a less physically talented player in the form of redshirt freshman Joey Kerridge, and not touching the ball all year likely bothered him.  By comparison, Kerridge had 1 reception for 12 yards against Nebraska and was targeted a couple more times throughout the year, in particular on a wheel route against Notre Dame.  Hopkins did a poor job of blocking in the Ohio State game, and it seemed like he wasn’t really giving 100%.

Hopkins’s departure leaves just two fullbacks on the roster – Kerridge and freshman Sione Houma.  Sophomore Thomas Rawls might have the ability to contribute some at fullback, and 2013 recruit Wyatt Shallman has some potential there, too.  However, this shouldn’t be a huge concern, because the fullback position can often be filled by walk-ons and position-switchers.

This is the 14th member of the 2010 recruiting class to depart early from Rich Rodriguez’s largely doomed class.  The class of juniors and redshirt sophomores is already down by more than 50%, and a couple remaining members of that same class have yet to see the field (Jordan Paskorz, Ken Wilkins).  However, this opens up a 24th scholarship for the class of 2013.  The coaches are expected to take at least 25 commitments in February.

9Aug 2012
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2012 Season Countdown: #21 Stephen Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins (#33)

Name: Stephen Hopkins
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 240 lbs.
High school: Double Oak (TX) Marcus
Position: Fullback
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #33
Last year: I ranked Hopkins #29 and said he would be the starting fullback with 200 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns.  He did start at fullback, but carried only 11 times for 43 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and caught 1 pass for 28 yards.

The running back positions were rather muddled going into 2011 with a new coaching staff coming in who probably wouldn’t agree with the old coaching staff on how to play their running backs.  Hopkins reportedly struggled with being told that the coaches wanted him to play fullback, but he bought in once he found out how much he would play, which was quite a bit.  It also probably helped when he saw Fitzgerald Toussaint breaking numerous long runs from the tailback position, something Hopkins wouldn’t be able to do himself.  He developed into a pretty solid blocker after a few games, and then maybe he bought in too much when he reportedly showed up to spring practices a little too heavy.

Now listed at 235 lbs., Hopkins seems primed for another solid season as the starting fullback.  The writing is on the wall that Toussaint is the starter and the coaches want Thomas Rawls to be his primary backup, so hopefully Hopkins enjoys thumping linebackers right in the chest.  He has just one career reception and his number of carries fell to 11 last season, so while he might get a few more touches in 2012, he probably won’t contribute a whole lot more.  He might be one of the most athletically gifted fullbacks in the Big Ten (as a former 4-star tailback coming out of high school), so perhaps he can surprise an occasional unsuspecting opponent with a big run when Al Borges decides to hand him the ball.

Prediction: Starting fullback; 15 carries, 60 yards, 1 touchdown

3Apr 2012
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Spring Practice Thoughts and Rumors – Offense

Denard Robinson will need to be great again in 2012

A couple weeks into spring practices, here are some thoughts on the videos we’ve seen (here and here) and the buzz from practices:

Quarterback: Denard Robinson’s athleticism is a given asset.  Some people say he looks faster this spring, and that might make sense, because I thought he looked a little slower in 2011 than he had in 2009 and 2010.  I’m not sure if it was conditioning, an injury, or a figment of my imagination, but he didn’t seem to have the same acceleration.  His mechanics don’t seem to have improved, but after three years of playing quarterback in college, I’m resolved to the fact that he will be throwing off his back foot until he’s no longer playing the position.  Meanwhile, Devin Gardner has looked excellent in his limited highlight exposure.  He’s in no danger of beating out Robinson, of course, but rumors suggest that he looks like a pretty good successor.  Practice rumors about Bellomy have suggested that he looks like a solid quarterback who lacks a little bit of arm strength, but the general buzz on him is that Michigan did a good job grabbing him as a sleeper.

Running back and fullback: Fitzgerald Toussaint seems to have the starting job locked down, and he has reportedly been getting a lot of time off during practices to a) rest, b) avoid injury, and c) let the backups develop.  That hasn’t stopped from showing several nice runs of his.  The “every down backup” appears to be Thomas Rawls, which seems like a default, since Vincent Smith is a third-down back and Hayes probably is, too, at least for now.  Smith has looked good catching the ball out of the backfield, as always.  Meanwhile, Hayes has received a bit of practice buzz for his speed to the outside, but we have yet to see him on film.  There’s not much depth for the spring, but keep in mind that two tailbacks and a fullback will be arriving on campus this summer.  Speaking of the fullback position, Stephen Hopkins is fitting in pretty nicely.  Coach Hoke said that he might have put on some bad weight in the off-season, but it doesn’t seem to be too egregious.  “Insiders” have suggested that the fullback position will be used more frequently in the passing game this year.  Walk-on Joey Kerridge has also received some praise from the coaches, so he might be a backup option while incoming freshman Sione Houma redshirts/develops.

Wide receiver: We’ve known since the end of the 2011 season that this position group would be a question mark, and that has been corroborated by several people who have seen practices.  There’s not one go-to guy, just a couple #2 or #3 guys.  Roy Roundtree has moved to flanker from split end, which puts him in a position to get the ball a little more.  At the flanker position, there are more route combinations to get him open and he is more likely to be the primary target.  (For those who don’t know the difference, the split end is on the line of scrimmage and usually the single receiver to a side.  The flanker, on the other hand, is usually paired with a tight end, a slot guy, or some combination of those players in a trips formation.)  Jeremy Gallon has made some nice plays on film and is the odds-on favorite to start at split end, despite being only 5’8″.  He doesn’t have great speed, but he is shifty enough to make people miss if Denard Robinson can get him the ball in open space.  Jerald Robinson has continued to earn practice buzz and was picked by several outgoing seniors to be a breakout player this season, but he’s a redshirt sophomore who has yet to make a catch; he’s more of a jump ball guy than Roundtree or Gallon and could be a valuable asset to replace leaper extraordinaire Junior Hemingway.  Jeremy Jackson is what he is – slow but reliable.  Drew Dileo hasn’t received any practice fanfare, really, but he’s another kid who’s probably going to be solid but unspectacular.  He proved to be valuable last year, kind of a glue guy who comes up with some important plays but won’t knock your socks off.  There’s definitely going to be a chance for the two freshmen to contribute this fall.  I still wish Michigan would have taken Devin Lucien, who is expected to be the #2 at UCLA, when they had a chance in the class of 2011.

Tight end: Brandon Moore seems to be “the guy” as much as an unspectacular fifth year senior who hasn’t played/contributed much can be “the guy,” but as I’ve warned before, keep an eye on walk-on Mike Kwiatkowski.  He might be the #2 guy when the season starts and might even steal some snaps from Moore.  We’ve also seen some clips of former linebacker Jordan Paskorz and former defensive end Chris Eddins, another walk-on, catching the ball.  None of the tight ends has been shown doing anything but catching the ball and getting tackled immediately.  Ricardo Miller, who will mostly play the H-back role, seems to be the “starter” at his position and has received some praise for being able to beat linebackers and the occasional safety.

Offensive line: This is a very solid starting group . . . and after that, we need to cross our fingers.  The starters seem to be Taylor Lewan, Elliott Mealer, Ricky Barnum, Patrick Omameh, and Michael Schofield (from left to right).  Jack Miller is the backup center, Chris Bryant is the backup guard, and Schofield is the backup at left tackle, in case anything happens to Lewan.  Bryant is a mauler in the running game who struggles a little bit against the pass, and Miller also has done fairly well, but neither one appears to be ready at this point.  The other backups are walk-ons, and the #2 offensive line has not been impressive as a unit, as one might expect.  A freshman or two will probably have a chance to nab a backup role in the fall.

16Dec 2011
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Running Back Preview: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech

David Wilson

Starter: Redshirt sophomore Fitzgerald Toussaint began the season alternating with junior Vincent Smith, but Toussaint quickly took the lead in the race to be the lead back.  Toussaint finished the season with 174 carries for 1,011 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and 9 touchdowns.  Toussaint has the toughness to break tackles, the stop-and-go moves to make people miss, and enough speed to be a breakaway threat.  Sophomore fullback Stephen Hopkins has carried 11 times for 43 yards (3.9 yards per carry).
Backups: Smith is the third down and change-of-pace back.  He rushed the ball 49 times for 296 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns.  Despite being only 5’6″ and 172 lbs., he’s the superior blocker.  Smith has also caught 10 passes for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Senior Michael Shaw is the next guy in; he finished the regular season with 31 carries for 199 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and 3 touchdowns.

Junior David Wilson has started all 13 games and finished the season with 266 carries for 1,627 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and 9 touchdowns.  Wilson has also caught 21 passes for 126 yards (6.0 yards per catch) and 1 touchdown.  Redshirt junior fullback Joey Phillips has 3 carries for 2 yards on the season with zero touchdowns; he has yet to catch a pass.
Backups: Fifth year senior Josh Oglesby has 90 carries for 336 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and 6 touchdowns.  Redshirt sophomore Tony Gregory has the next most carries with 16 for just 27 yards (1.7 yards per carry).

Wilson is the more accomplished back.  He leads Toussaint in yardage and yards per carry.  Wilson has at least one explosive play (20+ yards) in 10 out of his 13 games, and his only sub-80-yard rushing effort of the season came against Clemson in the ACC Championship.  Toussaint is also less effective and almost non-existent in the passing game (5 catches, 14 yards, 1 touchdown) than Wilson.  Fortunately for Michigan the Wolverines have significantly more depth at the position with two backups who have starting experience and a fullback who can run a little bit, too.  If there’s an injury to either running back, Michigan is more able to withstand the blow.

Running back play is largely dependent on the offensive line (which we’ll discuss another day), but this is a near wash when both teams are at full strength.  Wilson is not only the First Team All-ACC running back, but has also been voted the conference’s top overall player and was recently voted to the All-America team.  Toussaint would very likely have been All-Big Ten if not for the early-season platoon and missing one game due to injury.  With a superior fullback and experienced, potentially explosive backups, I have to give the advantage to . . .
Advantage: Michigan