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Published: Wednesday, 8/8/2007

Hopkins gets shot at being 3-time All-MAC

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
UT tight end Chris Hopkins was sixth in the MAC last season in receptions.
UT tight end Chris Hopkins was sixth in the MAC last season in receptions.
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For the second straight year, Chris Hopkins is listed as a sen-ior tight end on the University of Toledo roster.

There are two tangible differences between last year s senior season and this one. This year, Hopkins is one course away from getting his degree and he was a part of the senior photo.

After coming to UT as a non-qualifier out of high school, Hopkins earned an extra year of eligibility and is a senior again this year. He was also named a captain, meaning he was in the front row for the team picture.

Even though he wasn t ready all the way out of high school, he has taken that opportunity and made the most of it, UT coach Tom Amstutz said.

When players sit out their freshman year because they did not qualify academically, the NCAA requires them to have finished 80 percent of their degree requirements after their fourth year at the school to get back the year of eligibility. In his fifth year at UT, Hopkins has one course left, a non-United States culture class, to graduate with a degree in recreation and leisure.

When I first came, I told myself, I m going to get a college degree, Hopkins said. It was a little challenging my freshman year. I used the tutors that they gave me, I had tutors for every class I need help in. It was a big help.

Hopkins, named to the All-Mid-American Conference team the past two seasons, led the Rockets and was sixth in the MAC in receptions last season. He has the chance to become the Rockets first three-time All-MAC tight end since Don Seymour did it from 1972-74. His personal goals reach even higher.

I set my bars up high, Hopkins said. If I can achieve that, I want to be All-American. It s something I m pushing myself for.

THE HAWKINS BROTHERS: Senior wide receiver Andrew Hawkins is far from the only member of his family going through preseason camp.

Three of his brothers are doing the same. Younger brother Wayne Jones, 18, is a freshman defensive lineman at Pittsburgh. Another brother, Avery Hawkins, 25, is a coach at Division II California University of Pennsylvania, and oldest sibling Artrell Hawkins Jr., 30, is with the New England Patriots preparing for his 10th season in the NFL.

We ve been going to camp at the same time ever since I can remember, Hawkins said.

The brothers, from Johnstown, Pa., remain close and offer one another support despite the hectic schedules.

Camp gets pretty busy, so we usually catch each other pretty late, Hawkins said. We try to get a conference call. Two people do three-way, and there will be four of us on the phone. We all get to talk to each other, encourage each other.

Hawkins role will increase this season. In addition to starting at receiver, he will take over as punt returner.

He s a guy that can make a big play and really change field position fast because he has such good speed, Amstutz said. He practices full-speed at practice. He s doing a good job.

PRACTICE NOTES: Sophomore offensive lineman Jared Dewalt was on one crutch yesterday at practice with his right calf wrapped. Amstutz said Dewalt was suffering from a calf cramp The quarterbacks and receivers practiced deep balls and sophomore WR Robin Bailey garnered praise from coaches on his technique.

TEAM CAPTAINS: The team named seven captains, the most Amstutz has ever had on one team. Seniors John Greco, Greg Hay, Hopkins, Tyrrell Herbert, Jalen Parmele, Tyree Pollard and Sean Williamson were all voted to the position by the other players.

We basically had seven players get almost all the votes from the whole team, Amstutz said. The voting was so equal that I didn t know how to deal with it. We decided to make them all captains. I like having a lot of leaders.

Contact Maureen Fulton at: mfulton@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.



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