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Hopkins Follows Father's Footsteps to NFL

Posted at 9:20 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 22:20:22-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Brad Hopkins was selected 13th overall by the Houston Oilers in the 1993 NFL Draft. More than two decades later it’s his son Brycen’s turn to hear his name called in the 2020 edition of the Draft.

The Purdue tight end and former Ensworth standout is projected as a middle round selection. He says he's leaned on ‘ole pops for a little guidance throughout the Draft process.

“The technology is a little different with all the ways teams can get a hold of you now, but the process is still the same,” Brycen Hopkins said. “He said, ‘you’re going to try to be the best player you can be in a league full of best players, and players trying to do the exact same thing you are. You’re trying to take food off another grown man’s plate, so you got to come in there, be ready and be dedicated to the process.”

The elder Hopkins played 13 seasons in the NFL, all with the team that drafted him. He spent the first four seasons in Houston before moving to Tennessee, where the team switched its name to the Titans and Hopkins was selected to a pair of Pro Bowls.

Brad Hopkins has a lot of advice to share, but of course this Draft is unlike any in league history. Brycen says he’s met with 15 to 20 teams, but all the meetings have been online after the NFL shut down all team facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those virtual meetings have the potential to get a bit awkward.

“I take the phone and I flip it and point it at my feet to show them footwork, and you know my room is messy, I didn’t have my bed made because I wasn’t expecting that,” Hopkins said. “I really should’ve made my bed.”

An athletic 6’5 and 245 pounds, Hopkins has always caught the eye of scouts. He showed flashes with steady improvement during his first three seasons at Purdue, but was then forced into the spotlight as a senior. An injury to All-American receiver Rondale Moore followed by injuries to the Boilermakers’ top two quarterbacks sent the offense into a spiral.

Hopkins became the team’s go-to playmaker, and he responded with nearly as many catches last season as he had in his first three years in West Lafayette combined. He finished with 61 receptions for 830 yards and seven touchdowns, which helped him climb up some draft boards.

“I just had to realize the kind of position I was in, that this could either make or break my career,” Hopkins said. “I can either take this and run with it and actually try to make plays for my team like I know I can, or I can have all eyes on me and fail. And that wasn’t an option.”

Hopkins says he would love to climb all the way into the second round on Friday, but whenever he’s selected he says he’s just excited to hear his name called an experience that once in a lifetime moment just like his father did 27 years ago.

“It will definitely be surreal,” Hopkins said. “I don’t know what my dad’s moment was like, so it will be completely new for me. No one’s told me what to expect. They’ve just said it’s unreal and something you won’t forget.”