After four seasons of playing SEC football, former Meridian High School standout C.J. Hampton is ready to pass on his knowledge to the next wave of college football players.
Hampton, son of Southeast Lauderdale football coach Calvin Hampton, was recently hired as a graduate assistant/safeties coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He is the only person on MGCCC’s staff who is a defensive graduate assistant, and having played safety for Ole Miss from 2013-17, C.J. Hampton said that experience should help him develop a good rapport with the Bulldog safeties.
“A lot of these guys are here due to something that happened with their grades or another situation — they’re supposed to be playing ball at (the FBS) level,” C.J. Hampton said. “Getting to work with those guys and to put together what I know and what they know, I think it’s going to help them put it all together and help them play.”
The job opportunity is a step in the same direction as C.J. Hampton’s father, who was a long-time assistant at Meridian before serving as head coach of the Wildcats from 2016-18. It’s also part of a larger family tradition: C.J. Hampton’s great uncle Melvin Pete Sr. was a long-time head coach at the old TJ Harris High School in Meridian, and Pete also coached under Jackson State hall of fame coach W.C. Gordon as Gordon’s offensive coordinator and defensive line coach. Pete’s son, Melvin Pete Jr., coached Central-Tuscaloosa (Alabama) to a state championship in 2007 and is now the head coach at Aliceville High School in Alabama.
“I always knew me and his mom did a great job raising him, and it’s confirmation that he saw the grind of a coach and he wanted to following along in my footsteps, but at a higher level,” Calvin Hampton said. “As a parent, you always want your kids to be successful, fight through adversity and do things the right way. It’s a testament how everything has come full circle, and me, his mom, his sister, his grandparents… everyone is proud of him.”
C.J. Hampton said coaching was always in the back of his mind, as he knew he would one day have to retire from the game as a player.
“I was a thing where, if ball ever ended, I wanted to be around ball,” C.J. Hampton said. “It’s always been in my plans.”
And MGCCC provided the perfect opportunity for the younger Hampton to begin his coaching career.
“It feels good, especially since I’ve gotten done playing,” C.J. Hampton said of the opportunity. “I’m still young, so this gives me time to gain experience.”
Since his father has been in coaching for so long, C.J. Hampton said he’s been able to gain plenty of tips just by watching Calvin Hampton coach.
“In a way, he’s been instilling it in me since I was young that (coaching) is a grind,” C.J. Hampton said. “There’s a lot more paying attention to detail than when you’re just playing.”
While being a coach and player is a different role, football knowledge and a willingness to work are two things that transfer from someone’s playing days, Calvin Hampton said.
“Ball is ball,” Calvin Hampton said. “I told him to always keep his enthusiasm and keep about his business. At the same time, it’s a people’s profession. At the end of the day, you have to continue to work well with people and understand how people operate.”
While coaching, C.J. Hampton said he plans to work toward earning a master’s degree, and he hopes to keep moving up the college football coaching ladder. His hopes are to one day coach at the Power 5 level, preferably the SEC or PAC-12.