Two Charlotte area players have Clemson atop their list

by - Senior Writer -
Hopper had 1,359 rushing yards with 18 touchdowns on the ground this past season.

Magnet schools are supposed to attract the best and the brightest, and Phillip Berry Academy of Technology in Charlotte, N.C. does just that.

The Berry Academy offers three academic clusters to its students – the Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Information Technology and the Academy of Medical Sciences and Biotechnology – so scholarship offers for its students come as no surprise.

What may come as a surprise is the fact that two of Berry’s students have football scholarship offers – Clemson has offered both of them – which makes for heady times at a school that stresses academics far more than it does athletics.

“This is a school where we offer courses like nursing, computer science and courses like that,” football coach Andrew Howard told TigerNet. “It is really hard just to get into this school, and then you have to maintain the grades once you get here. The closest I have been to something like this is one kid that got into Western Carolina after he won the state championship in shot put. To have two kids on the same team being offered by a major Division I program is incredible.”

Linebacker Nick Dawson has six offers so far, with Clemson, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, North Carolina and North Carolina State offering. The 6-3, 225-pounder also plays running back on offense, but recorded 113 tackles on defense last season. Clemson and N.C. State are his leaders.

Running back/wide receiver Germone Hopper got his first offer from the Tigers, with N.C. State, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Louisville and East Carolina all jumping into the fray. Clemson appears to be the early favorite for Hopper, who will probably play wide receiver in college.

Howard said that despite all of the attention the two are bringing to the school, they are still students first.

“They are just regular kids,” he said. “They are very mild-mannered, and they are not looking to get into trouble. They want to hit the books and play football. Both of them are just really nice kids. They are just gentlemen. They still do teenage things, but for the most part they are just ordinary kids having fun.”

Dawson uses his size extremely well, according to his head coach.

“The thing that really stands out is his size,” Howard said. “You look at him, and you may not think he’s as big as he is, but he is just a heck of an athlete. He runs the ball, and he plays tight end; we do a little bit of everything with him. And he has decent speed.”

Hopper had 1,359 rushing yards with 18 touchdowns on the ground this past season, and added 39 receptions for 465 yards and five touchdowns while earning all-Mecklenburg first team and all-state honors. In track, he placed fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 200 in the state in his first year running track.

“If he makes the first person miss and gets a step on someone, I know it’s a touchdown,” Howard said of Hopper. “I haven’t seen anybody catch him. He has moves. He came out as a freshman – he didn’t even play in middle school – and we put him straight on the varsity. We watched him run and we saw what he could do.”

Howard said the Berry campus has been a busy place.

“A lot of the college coaches have been coming around, and they are excited about what they see,” he said. “They are looking at these kids, and they are like ‘Wow, they really are that good.’ I’m excited for them. Now I kind of get to sit back and let the parents take over. I know both of them are saying they want to make their decision by the time we play our first game next fall.”

Dawson said he loves the atmosphere at Clemson, and was excited when Coach Danny Pearman called with the offer.

“Clemson was actually my second offer,” Dawson said. “I was just sitting in class, and Coach Howard came down and told me they had offered me. It was pretty nice. I like Coach Pearman and how he talks to me. I like the game-day atmosphere and the weight room. And I am going to call Dabo Swinney today, because today is one of the days I can call him.”

Hopper, who also got his offer from Pearman, said being able to attend camp at Clemson helped his game tremendously and he plans to be back this spring and summer.

“Clemson was my first offer, and they are definitely one of my top schools,” Hopper said. “I went down to their camp, and they showed me how to run routes and gave me some good pointers. I also went to the Miami game last season, and that was a great atmosphere. They have some great football fans, and you can tell that is a football town.”

The Tigers signed a bevy of talented wide receivers in the recent recruiting class, and Hopper said that was something that makes him want to come to Clemson even more.

“It would be really nice to play with all of those great wide receivers,” he said. “They run the same speed I do, and they play just like me, so it would be nice to get into the same scheme as them. Especially Sammy Watkins. Some people have told me I play like him, so it would be great to play with him and guys like him.”

Germone Hopper Video highlights

Nick Dawson Video highlights

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