May 27, 2011

Texas DT gets UA offer, has new leader

Lago Vista, Texas defensive tackle Donald Hopkins had been flying under the radar with his recruitment, but that all changed this week when the University of Alabama offered him a scholarship.

Hopkins, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound nose tackle, received six new offers this week to nearly double his list, but none stood out more than the one he received from Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban on Tuesday.

"I like everything about (Alabama)," Hopkins said. "They're always on national TV and nationally ranked. They're a powerhouse, and everybody wants to beat them.

"I was just shocked when I was talking to him because it was Nick Saban. He was telling me about the facilities and the campus and how they do things over there. He just told me it's a great place to be and a great place to play football."

The rising defensive tackle prospect didn't hesitate to name Alabama as his favorite school, but also said he liked Arizona, Kansas and SMU.

Hopkins and his head coach Alan Haire have already set up a visit to Tuscaloosa on June 12 so they can get a first-hand look at the UA program.

"We're going to come down and visit in the month of June and make sure you get to know the people you're going to be spending a lot of time with and also get the feel for Tuscaloosa, get the feel of campus and the academic support," Haire said.

A decision from Hopkins may come soon after the visit as he wants to get it out of the way before two-a-days start so he can concentrate on the 2011 season and school.

On the field, the Lago Vista High School star plays nose tackle in his team's 3-4 defense, and that's where he wants to play at the next level because he's comfortable with the position.

"I love playing a 3-4 (defense) because I'm for sure going to hit somebody, and I like to go head up," Hopkins said. "I'm a physical player. 3-4 is perfect for me because it gives me the chance to show that I can take on two people and still get around them to get to the ball."

His high school film impressed Saban so much he sent UA assistant coach Jim McElwain to Texas to visit with Hopkins and watch him work out in person.

"(McElwain) felt that Coach Saban saw something special in Donald's video, and that's why he was down here," Haire said. "He said it was one of the better defensive tackle videos that they had seen.

"Donald is probably the most explosive kid that I've ever been able to coach, (with) his quickness off the ball and he's got great feet. That's what makes him special is his flexibility, his hips and his ability to get off the football."

Since receiving the Alabama offer, Hopkins' recruitment should continue to pick up. Texas and Missouri have already called to check in on him the last two days.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.










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