Hopper lights sky in debut performance

Hopper lights sky in debut performance

Football

Hopper lights sky in debut performance

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By Ed McGranahan.

By Ed McGranahan

The way Dabo Swinney describes Germone Hopper, it sounds as if he’s speaking of a Roman candle.

“He’ll flash early,” Swinney said Saturday.

Like a Roman candle with its burst and bolt of light, eventually it fizzles, that’s been Clemson’s experience with Hopper.

“We still don’t trust him to be an every down player,” Swinney said, “but it was good to cut him loose today.”

Hopper, a redshirt freshman from Charlotte, caught a six passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns in the 52-13 win over S.C. State Saturday, a nice coming out party for a precociously talented little receiver. On a day when Clemson wanted to further develop its depth, Hopper helped his case.

“It was really a great day,” Hopper said. “I was proud of the fact I made the best of my opportunities.”

Hopper’s first college catch was a 17-yard touchdown pass from Cole Stoudt in the third quarter and a 26-yard pitch from Stoudt in the fourth quarter, giving Clemson a 45-point lead.

For a guy Clemson so badly wants success, it was an eyeful. Spring practice was disappointing, and preseason camp wasn’t substantially better.

Hopper said he understood.

“Coach told me I had to step up,” he said. “I knew this was huge.”

Other than his pure speed, the second touchdown was an example of what Clemson loves about the kid. Stoudt’s pass and the S.C. State defense arrived at the goal line simultaneously. Hopper clung to the ball as he hit the pylon.

“You saw what we all liked in him,” Swinney said. “He’s a tough, tough guy.”

And perhaps one day he’ll be a full blown fireworks display rather than an occasional flash of light.

“He’s a guy we’re going to keep bringing a long,” Swinney said. “He’s going to be an electric player for us.”

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