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Posted on Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 9 a.m.

Michigan's Stephen Hopkins, overweight in spring, rebuilds body to become versatile fullback

By Kyle Meinke


Stephen Hopkins has embraced his move to fullback. He's reshaped his body, and could become a versatile force in Michigan's backfield.

Jeffrey Smith |

Stephen Hopkins wanted 1,000-yards seasons. Wanted touchdowns. Came all the way from Texas to be the Michigan football team's next great tailback.

Now a junior, he's moved to fullback, where his primary job is to roll up his sleeves, lower his shoulder -- and levy a block so someone else can rack up those yards.

He's loving it.

And that makes him a unique weapon for the Wolverines.

"The big thing about Stephen is he's bought into the position hook, line and sinker," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "That's really what it's about with the fullback, truth be told, when you've played tailback.

"If you'll jump in with both feet, as he has, he's progressively improved his game."

Most fullbacks are stodgy-types, with broad shoulders for shielding quarterbacks or plowing the way for tailbacks. And that's what makes Hopkins dangerous.

He's so much more than that.

As a former tailback, Hopkins is faster and far more nimble than typical fullbacks. He also has decent hands, which could make him a factor in the passing game.

"The quarterback is looking at me more often," Hopkins said. "I'm not really sure because it's the beginning of camp, but I think I'm going to be a factor in the passing game."


Stephen Hopkins ran 11 times for 43 yards last year, when he began the season at tailback before switching to fullback. He says he's now more comfortable at his new position.

Melanie Maxwell |

Borges, entering his 25th year as an offensive coordinator, says Hopkins is as versatile as any fullback he's coached.

"He has that kind of skill level -- he can do pretty much anything," Borges said. "He's a tailback, so he possesses some tailback skills. If you get a guy who has those kinds of skills at fullback, and will buy into playing fullback, you've got the consummate player there.

"He hasn't arrived, by any means. But his improvement has been significant."

Hopkins initially made the switch from tailback to fullback in the middle of last season, after then-starter John McColgan went down with an injury. Fullbacks weren't used under former coach Rich Rodriguez, so there were no scholarship players at the position.

Hopkins was an instant hit at fullback and, paired with the emergence of Fitz Toussaint at tailback, he realized his greatest opportunity to contribute might come at that position.

He requested to make the move full time, and coaches obliged.

Hopkins, though, showed up to spring camp "overweight," according to coach Brady Hoke. Hopkins began last season listed at 228 pounds, but said he finished it at around 238 pounds. Spring weights weren't released.

He says he now weighs 240 pounds after breaking down his body, then rebuilding it.

"This summer was about getting a lot stronger -- getting in shape -- and I think that's what I did," Hopkins said. "I lost weight at the beginning of the summer, then built back up, muscle-wise."

Hopkins feeling increasingly comfortable at fullback, now that he's in the proper shape and has had an offseason to soak in the position.

"Last fall camp, I didn't take any reps at fullback, so it was all new to me, learning during the season," he said. "I had all offseason to get my body right to play fullback, so I think I'm going to be ready."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

How much did he weigh before? One of our half backs weighs 242. You need to catch more than one pass in a season to play full back or you're just an undersized lineman. Roll Tide!


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

Not much is said about the coaches obesity but I do agree it is at the very least very unhealthy looking and does set a bad example. I had to lose a bunch of weight at one time and I can assure you it would have been easier to let it go but health wise it's an important issue in any persons life especially as they get up in years.


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

That being said, you don't see me jumping on osu boards talking about how much urban looks like a no chin Wiesel. Because frankly that would be childish : )


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

Actually I thought I read somewhere that Greg Mattison has lost something like 20 or 30lbs this off season. That's great! I would love to see coach Hoke and Georgous Borges do at least the same though if I'm speaking honestly.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

So we are now so PC and sensitive you are not allowed to notice someone's weight? Geez, guys its hard to close your eyes the whole time the coaches are waddling up and down the sideline.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

On topic: Stephen Hopkins could have been more successful at tailback, but he fumbled the football too much last season. If Stephen can eliminate that, he will be most effective. I really like his attitude about the team. It is great to see he will adapt and be willing to contribute anyway he can. Off topic: Glad the earlier posts were deleted. I have been reading negative comments about some people's weight concerning some Michigan Football personal for quite sometime. These are clearly off topic and are personal attacks to the subject of the news story. They are not fun to read. Don't mind fans from opposing teams as long as they show a little respect. I am glad keeps it clean. Keep up the good work and Go Blue!!


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

Was looking forward to this article since you teased us last week. Nice write up. It sounds like Hopkins has grown up a bit, loves the position, and could go down as a really good one for us. Occasional handoffs to the fullback keep defenses honest and sometimes can bust a big one. One thing you didn't mention is that Hopkins gave up the ball last year a few times in a row, and that needs to be worked on.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Remember the SDSU Game last year? The weather was nice, it wasn't raining, the football was dry.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

Hopkins at the fullback position gives us a little diversity back there.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Two comment threads were removed due to off-topics discussion regarding other commenters and negative attacks toward subjects in the article.


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Steve, I agree with you 100%. I have no issue with Michigan non-supporters posting on these threads. However when it is clearly in a way that instigates and attempts to provoke negative retaliation, it gets a bit rediculous. The posters mentioned by Steve are notorious for that.

Blu n Tpa

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

As someone who has had his share of posts vanish with the touch of the "delete" button I can say it's maddening. It's probably the number one reason why long time posters stop using this site. There appears to be a bias against those who defend Michigan in favor of those who attack simply because they can. I don't mind someone coming in and supporting their team so long as they know what they're talking about. MSU fans have the upper hand these days because, well their team has won a few in a row. They can back it up on the field. (That's going to end soon, so enjoy it while you can.) Others just come in to stir the pot with emotionally charge trash. Those people need to know it's not a one way street. needs to police those comments that are factually inaccurate, childishly written, and non-specific to the article presented. If you're not willing to do that at least give those of us who care enough to set the record straight a chance to respond. And allow those to use the same tone and vigor in defense as the original poster used. Otherwise what's the point?

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

edjasbord- The comment count is an automated feature which cannot be updated, I agree it would be a nice option to have. We dislike removing comments as much as readers do having them removed. I would suggest taking the approach of focusing on the topic at hand and avoiding anything that could be perceived as distracting from that topic. We want to hear different voices and opinions on our coverage they just need to be presented in a way that is constructive to the conversation. Billy Bob- If you ever have a comment you would like a copy of please send an email to and we can try to hunt it down in the archives for you to rewrite. We try to contact as many readers as possible when there are particularly long comments which need a small correction, but due to the overall volume of comments that is not always possible. Steve- Thanks for the feedback. We do keep a watch on our commenter community as a whole and individual basis. We realize that there may be inconsistencies at times but we do review situations such as trolls on a regular basis as they are raised by readers and addressed directly with those individuals.

Steve McQueen

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

It is the inconsistency that AA has towards deleting comments which is frankly, maddening and discouraging for people who want to come here and contribute in a positive manner. Trolls comments (sec guy, ted, tom from sparty etc) are allowed all the time. Those people constantly post in a provoking and insulting manner towards Michigan and Michigan college kids. Those trolls (who have nothing better to do than to dis people on opposing team's message boards) are allowed to post freely... and those of us to try to keep those Trolls in check are deleted. AA does this in an inconsistent manner and quite often, you delete posts which are 100% within your own published, so-called "community guidelines". That said, you will probably delete this post because you dont like what you hear from me.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

bord....I'm not pleased with some of the comments they have whacked. What I really wish is that you folks wno censor our writing would find a way to allow us to edit our comments and resubmit them. If you put a lot of thought into a comment, and put in something that is consider inappropriate, it's very frustrating that you either have to rewrite it or forget it. I am glad we now have a strong, bright halfback to do what needs to be done. It's amazing how we rean out of them, but I'm glad they're back big and strong.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

If you are going to delete my comment that was positive and, you know, took time to write, please update your comment count to reflect that. Thank you. Also, should we err on the conservative side and not waste our time commenting unless we are positively sure it will not get deleted? Honestly, deleting comments in which the community polices itself is unwise and perhaps only serves to increase your own need to police the community.

Steve McQueen

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

The biggest area that Hop has improved on is his blocking. He literally wiped out some good LBs last year and should be even better this year. He and Houma, the freshman give Michigan great depth at FB for the next few years at least.