Hopson’s move to Michigan opens doors for area athletes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2008

January 10, 2007

Jay Hopson’s hiring at the University of Michigan as the football team’s defensive assistant — his official role is unknown yet — is an absolute boon for Warren County football players with dreams of playing big-time college football.

His signing on to become the Wolverines’ recruiting coordinator should have every football player in this area with dreams of the big time digging into their schoolbooks tonight.

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The Warren Central graduate and former quarterback for the Vikings was not retained at Southern Miss after the resignation of head coach Jeff Bower. He said at the Dec. 22 Papajohns.com Bowl that he did not know future plans.

Then this comes.

The Wolverines will enter their first season with Rich Rodriguez as head coach. He likes to run a spread offense, molded around fast athletes. The offense is predicated on speed and more speed.

What is this area known for in football? Speed. It’s said on every talking head show when discussing the difference between the Southeastern Conference and other conferences — and the Big Ten in particular. Rodriguez wants to bring that speed to Ann Arbor. What better way to build than with someone who knows the South — and especially this area?

Hopson’s tenure at Southern Miss lasted three seasons. The Eagles were among the top-rated Conference USA defenses each year. But the chasm between Michigan football and Southern Miss football is as wide as the Yanghtzee Basin.

Southern Miss struggles to put 30,000 in the stands on game day and Michigan keeps adding on to the 100,000-plus seat Michigan Stadium, “The Big House.”

The Wolverines routinely battle for Big Ten championships and play in New Year’s Bowls, while Southern Miss struggles to win C-USA.

The differences can go on and on.

When the Southern Miss door closed for Hopson, it proved that sometimes it’s true that when one door closes another opens.

His hiring at Michigan opens an entirely new area for players from the South. Hopson knows Mississippi. He knows Warren County. He was born here, graduated high school here, still has immediate family here.

He knows how to get to Memorial Stadium and Viking Stadium without a road map. He also knows quality people from elements no coach wants around his program. He knows character.

“He has never forgotten where he came from,” said Warren Central football coach Robert Morgan, who coached Hopson in high school. “When he comes here to recruit, or to visit, you know you will be sitting talking for a while.”

And now he’s at the Big House.

Boy to be a budding football star right about now, right here. The opportunities have opened even more.

Wonder who’ll be the ones to seize it?


Sean P. Murphy is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail him at