In the Detroit News season preview, Sam Webb breaks down each of the Wolverines' tailbacks and rates…
Stephen Hopkins embraces position change
Now a junior, Hopkins has embraced a new position—fullback—a position change he made in the middle of last season and is still working on as the Wolverines prepare for Massachusetts this Saturday.
"It's been good," Hopkins said on the switch to fullback. "There are still a lot things I got to learn. I think this was probably only my ninth game playing it, so every game is something new. Coach (Fred) Jackson has helped me adapt to that ,and get me some techniques that I am trying to get better at every day."
Part of the move to fullback means more playing time for Hopkins, since last season he lost the starting halfback job to junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. At 6-foot, 240-pounds, Hopkins already has the size to play fullback. He said he has added weight and power this off-season to help ease the transition as a pronominally blocking back.
"I was always a bigger running back," Hopkins explained. "The position (fullback) wasn't too out of the way. So I think it was a good adjustment change."
"I knew the team. I thought I could help the offense of the team and play that position. That's really why I made that transition to fullback."
With the mindset of a fullback now, Hopkins has looked to former Wolverine fullbacks Chris Floyd and Aaron Shea as inspiration.
"Chris Floyd is probably one of my favorite players to play here," Hopkins said. "He is probably the meanest, most physical player I've ever seen in a long time."
While Hopkins hasn't decided if he would like to pursue a career as a NFL fullback, he said he has become a student of watching players on the next level technique-wise. "I watch NFL fullbacks all the time," Hopkins said. "I watch other fullbacks from other teams just to see what they are doing and what their technique is like. And just try to pick up from whomever I can really."
Hopkins has yet to record a carry on the season, but says if the offensive front is able to establish the line of scrimmage—more caries are soon to follow.
"When we start playing better in the trenches," Hopkins explained. "I think the amount of reps for the running backs and fullbacks is going to increase with the confidence in coaches in us.
"We just got to execute and put some drives together. Not just big plays here and there. We just got to execute play after play and get those long drives going and get a rhythm as a offense."
And hopefully the Wolverines will establish their running game and Hopkins will get that first carry.
"I'm used to playing full back at this point," he said, but added, "anytime I get a carry I am happy to do that!"
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