Hopkins turning heads on the practice field

by - Senior Writer -
DeAndre Hopkins talks to the media after voluntary 7-on-7 passing drills on Thursday.

CLEMSON – Clemson corner back Byron Maxwell ran off of the Clemson practice field late Thursday afternoon, and he was asked if any of the freshman players had caught his eye, and the senior didn’t even bat an eye before he answered: wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

The Tiger freshmen were undergoing voluntary 7-on-7 passing drills with some of the upperclassmen in an effort to help get the younger players up to speed, and Maxwell made it clear that Hopkins, who is from nearby Daniel High School, is the one player that Clemson fans need to keep an eye on during the fall.

Hopkins certainly already looks the part of a big-time college receiver, and much like Maxwell, he didn’t hold anything back when he was asked if thinks he can make an impact during his freshman season.

“I do think I can make an impact this year,” Hopkins said following the workout. “Not to be cocky or anything, but you have to be confident on this level. You have to think that every time you get the ball, you can make plays. The coaches have told me that if I learn the playbook, I can be very beneficial to this team.”

Hopkins comes to Clemson with orange already in his bloodline – his uncle is the late Terry Smith, who played wide receiver for the Tigers from 1990-93 – but Hopkins said he is ready to make his own mark at Clemson.

“I used to come to these practices my senior year, and my only thought was how can I get out here and help my team out,” Hopkins said. “So this is like a big dream come true for me. I am not trying to live in my uncle’s footsteps, which is Terry Smith, I’m just trying to come out here and live in my own footsteps.”

However, he cautioned that he realizes he has a long way to go before he can begin to make that mark, a realization that hit home as get started going up against the likes of Maxwell and safety DeAndre McDaniel.

“It’s going good – I’m just doing my reps and trying to learn the plays so I can help my team out,” he said. “But I’m going up against top-notch defensive backs, who will be in the league [NFL] sooner or later, and the speed is way different. I am just trying to learn the tempo and get my reps in.

“Just getting off the jam [at the line of scrimmage] is tough. These guys are more physical than me, which figures, because they’ve been through a lot and seen plenty of great wide receivers. They are great, though, because they are telling me what I am doing wrong. It’s just a process right now.”

Hopkins was asked if the older players were doing more of the instructional criticism, or more like smack talk, and he jumped in quickly to say it was ALL instructional.

“It is definitely more instructional,” he said. “If it was South Carolina, I could understand how it would be smack talk, they want me to be ready to get out on the field and help the team out. Right now, there are way more routes and hand signals than I am used to. Right now, it’s like I am deaf out there, with no coaches. So I am just going to my teammates out here, and they are trying to help me out.”

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