“Good things come to those who wait”
Sometimes a proverb just fits perfectly to a situation. This one was different compared to the usual waiting that comes with recruiting, as it wasn’t another team that was causing reason for pause, it was an entirely different sport.
Even though he is at Texas A&M now, Austin Thomas played an integral role, along with the recruiting dominance of Corey Raymond, to get Maurice Hampton, a Tennessee product, to commit to LSU back in July of 2016. What followed was what only could be defined as a whirlwind of emotions. A cavalcade of SEC offers followed that proved to not even leave a dent in his recruitment. However, when Thomas left to pursue a job back in Tennessee (which fell by the wayside in short order and eventually led him to College Station), it gave fans pause about LSU’s reach into The Volunteer State. LSU was reassured that his departure would play little impact, and a strong push late into his senior season by Ole Miss came up just short as Hampton would sign with the Tigers in February. Unfortunately for LSU fans, a much stronger opponent was still lurking in the shadows.
Hampton, a two-sport star, still had MLB scouts and teams figuring out where to take him in the MLB Draft in June, giving LSU fans months to temper their excitement of bringing him to Baton Rouge. Mock drafts continued to show him being selected in the top two rounds, which normally meant you can kiss him goodbye, player rankings placed him in the top 40 to mean things kept looking bleaker. Maurice comes from a financially-strong family and they continued to put a number out there that teams would have to meet if they wanted to sign him.
June 3rd came around as more LSU fans than normal likely followed along as each name was called out, tension rising the further they went into the night. Day One and the first two rounds passed and no Hampton was announced. A couple hours later, an announcement came via Twitter that had the message boards elated. The tweet from Hampton’s Twitter calmed everything when he announced he would be heading to LSU. That excitement was quickly tempered when the tweet was deleted a little while later. It rose back to its original state as reports came out that he was intent to play at LSU despite the deletion. Hampton’s father later said that they turned down $1.8 million offers at the end of the first round, showing his commitment to prove himself as a two-sport star at the next level.
110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has “can’t miss” talent.
100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.
97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.
89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.
79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.
247 Composite Rating: ****
247 Composite Ranking: .9432
Hampton will likely find himself playing safety at LSU, but he finished his senior season as a top-15 cornerback in the nation, playing a number of positions, including wide receiver, at Memphis University School.
It becomes quickly apparent why Hampton became the first player to earn Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball honors in Tennessee in the same year. His senior film starts off with a catch that was even shown on Randy Moss’ “You Got Mossed” feature on Monday Night Countdown. You can see that elite speed and athleticism (which he looks quicker in that one compared to his junior tape).
There’s a reason I posted both videos though, and it becomes quite obvious if you watch. His senior film is mostly wide receiver and return clips with three or so defensive plays at the end. The junior film shows much more of his defensive prowess and physicality.
If you needed any more reassurances of his abilities, he hit .480 as a senior for his baseball team and was there center fielder, a position where you need elite speed and read-and-react abilities. Teams always look for that “center field” coverage safety, so it certainly helps to have a player that actually plays that position in baseball.
Even with Grant Delpt, JaCoby Stevens and Todd Harris likely entrenched as the first three safeties, Raymond and Aranda like to throw many different looks from the secondary, meaning more opportunities for defensive backs to get spot action in certain spots. Hampton’s versatility also gives him the opportunity to move down and play as a cornerback if injuries start affecting a position. With Delpit leaving after this year barring something unforeseen, Hampton could put himself in a great spot to slide in as a starter with a strong freshman season.
High End: Hampton takes over leading this secondary upon Delpit’s departure and continues the DBU tradition even further.
Low End: Playing two sports starts to cause trouble to rise up the depth chart losing practice time, but he still becomes a solid rotational safety.
Realistic: There is just way too much ability with Hampton that he wouldn’t make an impact in the secondary. I see him taking one of the starting spots once Delpit departs, but it will come down to how he handles playing two sports in college that determines how far his stardom rises.