RB Stephen Hopkins among Michigan football recruits enrolling early; Marvin Robinson waiting on eligibility
Earlier this season, sometime after he committed to Michigan, Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus running back Stephen Hopkins got an email from a rival Big Ten coach saying he wouldn’t fit into Michigan’s spread offense and might want to reconsider his commitment.
The e-mail ended with a question: Should we keep recruiting you?
“I’m like, ‘Nah, I’m good,’” Hopkins said. “I (visited) a lot of traditional powerhouses and this is the best combination of coaches, the fans, academics. Nobody beats them in academics really, except for maybe Stanford, but their football program is not on the same level as Michigan’s football program. Just the combination of everything was too good to pass up.”
Hopkins, who plans to major in business finance and hopes to be a sports agent one day, is 1 of at least 6 Michigan recruits expected on campus when classes begin Wednesday. Receivers Jeremy Jackson, Jerald Robinson and Ricardo Miller,Â offensive lineman Christian Pace and running back Austin White also will enroll this week. SafetyÂ Marvin Robinson is awaiting word on his eligibility, and quarterback Devin Gardner still is trying to graduate early.
At 6-foot and 235 pounds, Hopkins isn’t your typical spread running back. By comparison, Â Vincent Smith, who enrolled early and played as a true freshman last year, is 5-foot-6 and 158 pounds.
But Hopkins watched with interest the role Brandon Minor played for Michigan this year and believes he can fill the big-back void as a true freshman.
Minor led the Wolverines with 502 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns in 2009, but was hampered by leg and shoulder injuries. When healthy, he was far and away Michigan’s best running back.
“I think I’m a pretty strong runner just like Brandon Minor is,” Hopkins said. “I’m a little bit bigger than he is, but I think I have a lot of the same attributes he does running the ball. He gets tough yardage, breaks first contact, gets a lot of yards after contact. I think I’m a lot like that.”
Hopkins said he ran for about 1,350 yards as a senior and broke former Purdue running back Steven Ennis’ school rushing record with 4,960 yards for his career. He also played some linebacker for this first time as a prep.
“I had a pretty good season,” said Hopkins, rated among the top 10 running backs in the Dallas area by the Dallas Morning News. “My numbers weren’t as high because we had some more running backs that could help carry the load so I didn’t have to get the ball as much, so that helped me. It helped me have better games. It helped me contribute more.”
At Michigan, Hopkins said he expects to contribute next fall in a wide-open backfield.
With Minor and second-leading rusher Carlos BrownÂ gone and Smith coming off a torn ACL, Mike Shaw, Mike Cox and redshirt freshman Fitzgerald Toussaint will be the only backs ahead of Hopkins on the depth chart this spring.
Hopkins said he wants to lose 15 pounds and prove to everyone he fits in Michigan’s system.
“I have an opportunity to come up this spring and show the coaches I can get on the field early,” he said.
Robinson still hoping to enroll early
Safety Marvin Robinson said Monday he should learn sometime Tuesday if he will be eligible to enroll early.
Robinson, who took 3 classes over the summer in an attempt to graduate in December, said the holdup stems with 2 classes he took last semester.
"Most likely things are going to work out where I can go up there tomorrow," Robinson said.
Even if things don't, Robinson said he's firm in his commitment and will sign with Michigan in February.
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.