No matter what year in Texas high school football, there is always a team that makes a huge jump during the season and catches plenty of programs, fans and sports writers off guard with their success.
One could say that was the case with coach Greg McCaig's boys over at Cy Creek. A dismal 2007 finish of 2-8 was quickly reversed in 2008 to 8-2. One of the many reasons for the success was the play of defensive tackle Will Hampton.
Now going into his senior season, Hampton looks back at what it took to go from where it was to having the target going into 2009.
"Oh there was no doubt, we were at the very bottom, but last year we turned that around and went 8-2," Hampton said. "It took a lot of hard work and determination, and senior leaders stepping up. That is how we were able to turn things around. And that is what we have to do to continue with that success. Right now, it's not about where I want to be, but where we are as a team and I see us having success again."
And Hampton is not alone. Many of the published preseason rankings have the Cougars ranked in the Top 20 (TPI has Cy Creek at No. 13). From Hampton's standpoint, he feels like the team success has brought much more attention to the school and ultimately has made the situation better from a college recruiting advantage.
Right now, there are nearly a dozen players on the Cougar roster who could land a spot on a college roster over the next couple of years. But, Hampton said because of the team strength, individual success could be achieved.
"Really, I am getting noticed because of the team. We had about 4-5 guys the year before (2007) who could have went Division I but we went 2-8 and they did not get recognized," Hampton said. "My role on the team, from the defensive side, the coaches know that that side of the field is locked down and taken care of. You know with guys like Sam Sammons and the others on the field, we are a good unit. I'm only a small part of the team."
But what Hampton considers small, college coaches see it another way. He finished his junior season with 43 tackles and four sacks, which has brought him plenty of attention. Back in late May, Hampton felt comfortable enough to give a commitment to Stanford. Since then, a few things have changed.
"I have about 17 offers right now, but I am only seriously considering Notre Dame and Northwestern. I cut off schools like Nebraska, Texas Tech and others," Hampton said. "Not saying that they are not great schools, but I feel like to reach my potential on and off the field, it would be best at one of these two schools. This will help my career after football."
Hampton is ahead of the game and has already taken unofficial visits to both campuses.
"With Northwestern, I would have to say my position coach Marty Long. He is a great person," Hampton said. "Also, if I did go there, because I want to be a Secret Service agent, they can set me up an internship and I would also have a mentor there for me. Plus they win plenty of games every year.
"Notre Dame is just Notre Dame. The campus is beautiful and the weight room is huge. Everything is right about Notre Dame."
No favorites mentioned from Hampton, but he is likely to make the call sooner rather than later for one of these two programs.
In its recruitment of three-star defensive lineman Will Hampton, Northwestern was up against some…