By Chandler Carver.
Clemson wide receiver DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins has been one of the focal points of Clemson’s offense for his two seasons as a Tiger. However, because of spending the off-season of his freshman football campaign with the basketball team, Hopkins is really just getting his first official football off-season. This is his time to focus on football, he says, and work on things to make him a better all-around player.
“My main focuses this off-season have been strength and speed,” Hopkins said. “I’ve really been working to get my strength up. When you get your strength up, you’re a better all-around player. Coach Greenlee and Coach Batson have helped me out and given me things to do on and off the field to help me.”
Hopkins says he knows he has the talent, but he has to put in the extra work this off-season to make himself a bigger threat on the field.
“The game of football, talent-wise, comes to me naturally,” he said. “But, Coach Swinney always tells me to treat your body right. You have to do the little things to help you stand out. I felt like something I needed to work on was my strength. I have the talent; I just had to work on other parts of my game.”
Hopkins says that not only is he bigger and stronger, he’s also faster.
“I feel a lot faster than I’ve been. That was one of my main focuses too,” said Hopkins. “Coach Greenlee is making sure that I’m working on my strength and speed. We have a whole summer to go so we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a good season.”
As for the offense, Hopkins says that Chad Morris has been working this spring to help the guys with their technique, and that running the offense is much easier now with a whole season behind them.
“It feels great to go through Coach Morris’ offense this year now that we have a whole year under our belt,” he said. “It’s like saying your ABCs. After the first spring practice last year, things were kind of hectic, but we started off 8-0 so it worked out. Now, it’s like clockwork. Everyone knows what’s going on, even the second and third string guys. It’s going well right now.”
“We’re working on our technique and getting the new freshmen guys installed into the system. They’re going to be able to help us this year, but we have to start them from square one.”
Although the offense is running smoothly, Hopkins and Coach Morris both say that there is still much room for improvement.
“We still have a lot of improving to do, in all aspects,” said Hopkins. “We’re never going to be perfect. Coach Morris is always telling us that we have plays to work on and improve on. We have an ego on this team that even if we’re doing good, guys think we can do better. There’s always room for improvement. “