Redshirt Report: Hopper looks to bring speed to linebacking corps

Jan 14, 2020 | 0 comments


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During the beginning weeks of the off-season, Inside the Gators will take an in-depth look at how last season went for Florida's 2019 signees who redshirted with our Redshirt Report series. Today, we focus on how this past season went for linebacker Tyron Hopper.

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As the No. 88 overall prospect out of Roswell High School in Georgia, linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper was the third-highest ranked member of UF’s 2019 signing class still with the program at the start of the 2019 season.


He was hailed by fans as the future of the Gators’ linebacking corps. Then, as is often the case, a dose of reality awaited Hopper when he arrived on campus in the spring. Despite UF having no proven linebackers other than David Reese, he played in the maximum four games allowed by the NCAA and redshirted.

Whereas some highly recruited freshmen get upset at not contributing early and consider transferring, that’s not how Hopper looks at things, said Matt Kemper, his high school head coach.

“You get to a place like Florida, everybody’s a great player and everybody wasn’t just necessarily the best player on their team in high school; they might’ve been the best player in their state,” he said. “He’ll be fine. He’ll figure it out.

“Ty’Ron’s a great kid. He’s a good young man. He’s got a great attitude. He’ll be fine. The thing you’ve always got to keep in mind, it’s five-year plan, not a four-year plan like high school.”

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2020 Redshirt Report Series

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As is the case with a lot of freshmen, one of the primary focuses for Hopper during his redshirt year was to add muscle. He started his high school career at safety before moving to outside linebacker. He was listed at 197 pounds on his 247Sports profile. The Gators want him to play inside linebacker, Kemper said, which requires more strength to disengage blockers and stuff runs. He’s listed at 215 pounds on UF’s official roster now.

With Reese’s departure, the middle linebacker spot is up for grabs, and Hopper figures to be among the favorites to take it. As a former defensive back, he has better speed, instincts and ball skills than you’d normally expect from an inside linebacker. If he continues to get stronger over this offseason and increases his comfortability with his new position, he could be on his way to a special career.

“He’s very, very athletic,” Kemper said. “He’s got great instincts. Like I said, a lot of natural tools. He’s long, can really run and not shy to get involved in contact.

“The sky is the limit. He’s a kid who could develop and have a chance to play on Sunday possibly.”

In the meantime, he’ll focus on getting on the field on Saturdays.

 

 

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