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‘Dogs Hopkins not one to avoid tacklers

 There is a difference in the way Seattle Seahawks tailback Marshawn Lynch runs and how Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson carries the ball.

Lynch would much rather punish a defender all game long while Peterson looks for open space and uses his speed to pick up yards.

Nederland’s Kendrick Hopkins is of the Marshawn Lynch mold.

Hopkins quickly admitted he loves the game of football because of the contact. He looks for a guy to hit and then does his best to be the player who stays on his feet.

The senior running back is closing in on his second consecutive 1,000 yard season (993) and is one yard short of 3,000 rushing yards for his career. In the last 30 years, only Micah Mosley has rushed for more yards as a Bulldog than Hopkins. Mosley finished with over 4,000 yards at Nederland.

“I would love to be able to go back and see how many yards Kendrick has picked up in his career after first contact,” Nederland Coach Larry Neumann said. “I promise you the number would be amazing. I don’t think people realize how tough a kid he is. He would much rather bull someone over than score from 50 yards out and not get touched.”

Hopkins backed up the words spoken by his coach.

“I love the contact,” Hopkins said. “This is a collision sport. I want to find out who the stronger guy is. I want to take the hit and be the one who is left standing. If you try to tackle me, I want to make sure you feel it the next day. The 3,000 yards will be great to look back on one day in the future. Right now I can only look at the next opponent and try my best to help this team.”

Hopkins is also a patient runner and this past Friday was a prime example. Rival Port Neches-Groves had held Hopkins, a two-year starter, in check all night until finally he was able to break a long run and help seal the Bulldogs 21-17 victory.

There was no better feeling in the world for Hopkins.

“Mid County Madness is such a great game to be a part of,” Hopkins said. “There are so many people watching that game. We have been on a streak against those guys and I love knowing I will always have bragging rights. I never lost to PN-G. That is beyond a great feeling.”

Hopkins simply loves being a Bulldogs player. He will always enjoy the combination of the colors black and gold. He considers every person who attends Nederland High School a part of his family.

“We are all family,” Hopkins said. “It is far better to be a Bulldog than to be an Indian. Coach Neumann is a great man and I consider him a father figure in my life. He is that way with all of us. He shows us tough love and expects the best out of us. I wouldn’t have it any other way from him and the other coaches.”

Neumann said he first noticed Hopkins’ talents when the young man was a freshman. He knew he had something special and it didn’t take long for everyone else to realize Hopkins was the real deal.

“He is not going to go 60 to 80 yards in a hurry like Jamaal Charles,” Neumann said. “He gets those tough yards. He never gets frustrated throughout a game with how many yards or touches he has. He stays within himself and the next thing you know, he is the reason you are able to put a check in the win column. He is a steady guy and we are very proud to have him on our team.”

Hopkins now is on a mission to achieve a couple goals he set for himself and his team.

“I want 2,000 yards,” Hopkins said. “I first want to make sure I beat the yards I had last year (1,722) but my real goal is 2,000 yards. I want to make sure this team wins District 20-4A again without a loss and that we go at least one step beyond what we did last year. You always have to improve. We can’t accept moving backwards.”

BULLDOG BITES: Kendrick Hopkins is the son of Brady Hopkins and Rene Jackson…Hopkins hopes to keep playing football after graduating from NHS…He said is waiting on a couple more offers from college teams to come in before making his decision…Even though he is a little disgusted with their play as of late, Hopkins remains a Houston Texans fan…His favorite all-time player is Ray Lewis because of his work ethic.

gpruett@panews.com

@PaNewsGabe