The tuxes and limos that go with a senior prom, the pomp and circumstance of high school graduation are things C.J. Hampton will never experience.
And that’s something he doesn’t regret.
Hampton punted the spring of his senior year at Meridian High School to jump-start his college football career at Ole Miss.
“Football and school, that’s my thing. I could really care less about prom and all that. I’ll be fine,” he says.
Florence, Ala., quarterback Kendrick Doss and Hampton are both by-passing their senior springs. Defensive end Marquis Haynes is also listed as a freshman, but he played last season at a prep school, Fork Union Military Academy.
Hampton says just being out on your own is a little unusual.
“You’ve got to have boundaries, just act like your parents are here. Do your work. Don’t go out every night. Handle football and do your work. That’s the main thing. Getting up early by myself … my mom woke me up all the way through high school, so getting up by myself is a lot different. That’s really it. Just getting up and going to class.”
Hampton, listed at 6-0, 186, says he’s physically ready to play, but he’s still trying to pick up the playbook and the mental part of the game.
He’s currently running second to senior Cody Prewitt at free safety.
“He helps me a lot and also Anthony Alford. I played against him in high school. It’s just a learning process for me. I’m getting reps, but I know I’m not ready just to step in right now as a player. I’m still learning, and I’ll be ready by the fall,” Hampton said.
Understanding the coverages and schemes are the biggest challenges facing Hampton.
“The checks in the secondary. You make one bad call, and the whole defense goes wrong. I’m just learning that. That’s the main thing,” he said.
Ole Miss coaches describe the competition among the four safeties as very close. They’ve been confident enough in Hampton to move Chief Brown, a fourth-year junior, to Huskie.
“It’s a little different from high school, but being here early has helped a lot. I got thrown into the fire pretty fast. I’ve had to learn quick. I’m running in the two-deep right now. I’m learning pretty fast. God sent me here for a reason. I’m going to take it all in and do what I’ve got to do to get on the field.”