At 5’9 and 180lbs Father Ryan’s Rapheal Hopkins doesn’t fit prototypical Running Back standards. Some Coaches and defenders key on those numbers and may discount Hopkins ability. Their mistake. What Hopkins may lack in size and stature he more than makes up for in agility and top end speed. At the recent Tennessee-Chattanooga football camp he clocked a 4.4 40yd dash and a 3.9 shuttle time and made the camp “Dream Team”. Sporting a max Bench press of 365lbs and grades well above 3.0, Hopkins is basically 2-3 inches and 15-20lbs shy of the total package. Coming off an ’11-’12 campaign of 1030 Rushing yards and 11 TD’s Hopkins has proven capable of absorbing the physical pounding and come ’12-’13 looks to further prove his doubters wrong.
Looking to improve on last season’s (5-7) showing, the Father Ryan squad will no doubt rely heavily on Mr. Hopkins and his game changing speed. Three times last year the RB broke runs of greater than 60 yards in route to averaging almost 100 yards per game for his Fightin’ Irish squad. The Davidson (TN) High school features a balanced offense, but will almost assuredly defer more to it’s dynamic Running back this season. Hopkins is quick to the hole and decisive in getting through it. He appears a straight ahead runner who has no problem lowering his ahead for the final few yards. More shifty than elusive he doesn’t seem prone to dancing around or losing yards looking for the big play. Hopkins displays the strength to run through arm tackles and appears to consistently maximize yardage opportunities.
There’s not much evidence Father Ryan utilizes Hopkins in the Pass game and I assume most collegiate programs will want to see those skills displayed. Although naturally lower to the ground, Hopkins does tend to run rather tall/straight-up and may benefit from a lower/tighter approach. He may also benefit from shoring up some technique elements. I’d like to see him consistently carry/switch the ball to his hand/arm closest to the sideline to mitigate the potential for lost fumbles. When running between the Tackles it appears he can hold the ball closer to his body.
The physical chip may be stacked against him, but Rapheal Hopkins doesn’t strike me as bothered or intimated by challenge. He proved productive in ’11-’12 and will need to do more of the same in ’12-13. Hi speed alone will garner low D1 and high 1AA interest and assuming he goes for another 1000+ this season and continues to impress at camps, he may also seem some interest on the part of more recognizable programs. The young man is clearly driven to succeed and possesses a strong work ethic. Many will focus on the height of 5’9 and fail to recognize the all around package. Tennessee is far from my SoCal roots, but I’ll certainly check in with the Father Ryan Running Back. Carries himself well, had his academics well in order, and holds next level speed. Just needs an opportunity.