For Highland Springs (VA) head coach Loren Johnson, one word adequately describes defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins . The word is consistency, something the 6-0, 285-pound senior has shown since earning a starting spot on the varsity as a freshman.
“Derrick’s like a baseline. He is straight across. He is consistent all the way across,” said Johnson, who just completed his second season as Springers head coach. “He has a good, fast twitch for a big guy. He uses his hands very well. He is getting himself in shape. He plays basketball, so he has good feet. Derrick is consistent all the way around. If you’re looking for five traits in a defensive lineman, Derrick has all of them.”
Hopkins racked up 59 tackles including 13 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 2009, earning Richmond Times-Dispatch all-metro honors for the third time. He’ll take his game to Virginia Tech, where his brother, Antoine, will be a sophomore defensive tackle next season.
Coach Johnson wouldn’t speculate as to how early Hopkins may see the field in Blacksburg, but he does believe the talented prospect has a leg up on the competition.
“The learning curve will be different for Derrick because he sort of has Cliffs Notes on the system,” Johnson said. “I think that could help him contribute very early. We’ll wait to see what happens when he gets to camp and if he can do the things they want him to do. He’s getting better, which is scary. When you have a player as consistent as he is getting better and better, you could have a great player.”
If Hopkins were two or three inches taller, he may have been recruited by schools throughout the country. No matter, though.
“I think Derrick’s where he wants to be, regardless of if he was highly recruited or not,” Johnson said.
Hopkins, who goes by Skip, carries a 2.5 GPA and has attainted a qualifying SAT score. He is on track to fully qualify.
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