With the graduation of all-Southeastern Conference rushing leader Artose Pinner, the competition for the starting tailback job appeared up for grabs during spring practice. Sophomore Alexis Bwenge came out of the spring with a slight edge over sophomore Arliss Beach and redshirt freshman Monquantae Gibson while junior college transfer Draak Davis appears ready to see some playing time. That hasn't hampered the spirit of Hopewell, though.
"I'd like to get into the rotation with the running backs, but I don't know how that will work out," Hopewell said. "Artose had a great year and will be missed a lot this year, but I think this group of backs will go out there and do their best. We had a really good spring and I think I have a good shot at competing for the job."
Hopewell started on the kickoff team last year and was always one of the first players to the football.
He may not have made every tackle, but if he didn't he forced returnees to run into a swarm of defenders.
"I expect to play a lot on special teams this year," Hopewell said. "Playing on the kickoff team is one of the most exciting plays of the game and what I really enjoy doing. I love being one of the first players down on the field and get in on the action. When you like what you are doing, it makes it easier to do it."
Hopewell said head coach Rich Brooks is a lot different from previous coach Guy Morriss.
"It has been a big change," Hopewell said. "We have already learned a lot of things from this staff that we didn't know from the other one. They have put in a few new elements. The offense is much more sophisticated and we have to learn a whole new offense again.
"(Coach Brooks) expects to win right now and stressed that in his letter he sent to us before camp. We're tired of losing, too. We were able to get on sort of a roll last year and it was a great feeling. We want to get into a bowl game this year after the disappointment of not being able to go to one last year, but our number one goal right now is to get ready for Louisville. We can be as good or as bad as make it. It's all in how hard we want to work."