Meridian Star

December 20, 2013

Meridian’s C.J. Hampton recommits to Ole Miss

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

— For three days C.J. Hampton’s phone never stopped ringing. His name was plastered all over multiple social media outlets. The already high amount of interest concerning the Meridian High School safety’s college commitment only skyrocketed after he announced Wednesday on Twitter he was no longer committed to Ole Miss.    

    Hampton, who had been previously committed to the Rebels for more than a year, felt he needed to consider all his options which included Alabama, Arkansas and Florida State.

    After much thought and countless family discussions, the four-star safety decided late Thursday night his original decision was the right one. Friday, in front of friends, family and media, Hampton reached for a red and blue hat during a press conference at Meridian High School and announced he was recommitting to Ole Miss.

    “I sat down and talked to everyone about it,” Hampton said. “Some people were against it, and some people were with it. I talked a lot with my family and a lot with Coach (Hugh) Freeze.

    “It was a good position for me to go into. Everyone knows Ole Miss is not the biggest winning program over some of the other programs. But I think I can go in there and do something different, be a ball hawk and change it.”

    Hampton said he originally opened up his commitment when he started taking official visits to schools. He was pursued hard by several head coaches, including Alabama head coach Nick Saban who visited Hampton by helicopter on Dec. 4.

    “I didn’t de-commit head on, it turned into a soft commitment,” he said. “At the time I was just like go ahead and pull the trigger. I talked to coach Freeze and he was against it at first, but he understood what I was going through. He agreed and went with it.”

    Hampton had plenty of support from friends and family throughout the process, but perhaps no one influenced him as much as his father Calvin Hampton who also serves as an assistant coach for the Wildcats. Ultimately, his father’s advice was to go with what felt right.

    “As a young man, you always have to go with you gut,” Calvin Hampton said. “A lot of the times, your gut feeling ends up being the right choice. What C.J. did was go with his gut on this. He didn’t let anybody make up his mind for him.”

    Hampton was a force for the Wildcats this season, leading Meridian with 111 tackles and four interceptions. He will participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 before enrolling at Ole Miss.

    “To me, I just look at it as he’s got a great opportunity to accomplish everything he wants to accomplish,” Meridian head coach Larry Weems said. “Now he’s got to go do something with it.”