The Meridian Star
The days of Meridian High School safety C. J. Hampton flying under the radar are over. Last week Hampton earned an invitation to the US Army All-American game on Jan. 4, 2014. This week, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound safety picked up his eighth college offer, as Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide came calling.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Hampton said of the Alabama offer. “It isn’t easy to have a school of that caliber to recognize you. At the same time, being invited to the US Army All-American game was a big deal. Things seem to be working out pretty well.”
The Rivals.com four-star safety has had his fair share of success lately, claiming MVP at the Nike Combine in Memphis in April . However, Hampton is quick to dish out credit to his community and said many people have played a key role in his success.
“My coaches and my family and everybody have been working with me throughout it all,” Hampton said. “Now, it’s finally paying off.”
Despite all the added attention, Hampton has not allowed the hype to interfere with his preparation for the 2013 season. Even after having to field multiple calls from schools and reporters, the soon-to-be senior is enjoying the ride so far.
“Not too many guys get to go through this process, so you have to cherish it,” Hampton said. “This is what you have been working for, and it is finally here, so you got to take it and enjoy it.”
Meridian head coach Larry Weems said what sets Hampton apart are the physical attributes he offers on the field. Weems said Hampton’s combination of strength, size and speed allow him to play almost anywhere on defense in the next level.
“I think he’ll be a safety, but with his height, when he gets into one of these colleges with the strength programs, he may put on 30 more pounds,” Weems said. “He loves the weight room. If he keeps growing, he may even wind up as a linebacker.”
Hampton said he is being recruited solely as a safety right now but is open to the idea of playing wherever his future college coach needs him.
“I see myself being able to play anywhere,” Hampton said. “Whether it is linebacker, cornerback, safety, I can go anywhere. It just really depends on the body size coaches want me to be.”
Off the field Hampton has been just as valuable for the Wildcats, working with younger players and taking a leadership role on the team. The son of MHS assistant coach Calvin Hampton, Hampton is a player who Weems said is easy to coach.
“He’s a bright kid, and he’s an extremely hard worker,” Weems said. “He comes from a home where his parents have installed discipline and a hard work ethic. He isn’t afraid of work, he’s a tough kid.”
Hampton committed to Ole Miss on June 5, 2012 and holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Indiana, Louisiana Lafayette, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Stanford and Tennessee. Hampton will attend the Nike’s The Opening camp on June 9 in Eugene Oregon.
“I’m still pretty strong with Ole Miss,” Hampton said. “At the same time, I am also going to look at all my options.”