Hopkins achieves dream of being a first round pick

by - Senior Writer -

The Houston Texans got their man, and DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins fulfilled a goal he set for himself before the start of the 2012 college football season.

Hopkins has said that he wanted 2012 to be his best season to date, and his goal was to turn himself into a first round NFL draft pick, a goal he realized Thursday evening when the Houston Texans selected him with the 27th overall pick.

Hopkins, in a conference call with the Houston media shortly after his selection, said he had an idea that he was on the Texans’ radar.

“I’ve been hearing the buzz, you know, that Andre Johnson wanted another wide receiver on the other side of him,” Hopkins said. “And when I heard he said that, I was like, ‘man, I’m that guy. I can help this team win a championship.’”

Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison called Hopkins a “complete player.”

“Well, he’s a very physical receiver,” Dennison said. “He’s very strong, has very good ball skills. He catches the ball naturally. He has good run after catch, just a complete player for us.”

Dennison said Hopkins’ competitive nature stood out on film.

“Especially last year, his route content was very large. Like you said, he was productive, but he got better every year; he got more and more catches,” Dennison said. “Obviously last year was his best year. Eighteen touchdowns is quite a few for one season. The thing, to us, that stuck out in our minds watching him and the more you watched him was he is very competitive. He’ll catch the ball in a crowd, it doesn’t matter to him. He can go up and get the ball. He competes and wears the DBs out. He’s physical and that’s what translates and that’s what we believe that we carry week-to-week; that’s what we ask our guys to do, to compete. He really fits that mold for us.”

Hopkins is the first wide receiver the Texans have taken with their first pick since they selected Johnson with the third overall pick in the 2003 draft, and Dennison said the team was holding out hope that Hopkins would be there with the 27th pick.

“I was holding my breath,” Dennison said. “As we went through it, he was the guy I really like the most of the wide receivers. It’s a good group but he was the one I would prefer we have.”

Hopkins had 206 receptions to rank him seventh in ACC history and second in school history. As a junior in 2012, he caught 82 passes for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was an All-ACC first-teamer and his 18 touchdowns were school and conference records.

Dennison said those kinds of numbers were hard to overlook, but it was also hard to overlook the way Hopkins played on the big stage.

“That’s the thing, every year he got more and more production and caught more balls and it didn’t look like anything was too big for him,” Dennison said. “I’ll say it that way, whatever he’s asked to. When you look at his bowl game performance, when the stage got bigger, he just kept playing bigger and bigger.”

Hopkins said he was able to play that way because he doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him.

“I’m a level-headed player,” Hopkins said. “I don’t really get too emotional during the game because I feel like that would take me out of it. In big moments, my teammates trust me, they come to me.”

Hopkins then said he only has one expectation with the Texans.

“I really don’t have expectations, personally,” Hopkins said. “I just really want to win a championship. That’s my expectations coming in.”

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