Vaught's Views: Daniel Hopewell has no regrets about UK career

November 20, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - This will be Daniel Hopewell's second time to play at Georgia but no matter what happens Saturday, he'll always remember his first trip because that's where he made his first collegiate catch.

Hopewell, a senior receiver at Kentucky, caught a 13-yard pass in the 2001 loss to Georgia. He knows he's not likely to catch another one Saturday, but he can always hope.

"I caught my first pass at Georgia, and that's something I will always remember. I would love to go back there and make something good happen this time," Hopewell said.

If he does make another reception this week, hopefully his father will see it. David Hopewell, a former starting center for the Wildcats, was at the 2001 Georgia game but missed the catch.


"It was toward the end of the game and he was headed down to the field to see me," Daniel Hopewell said. "Then he heard, 'Catch by Dan Hopewell.' He looked up at the big screen and saw it on replay. But I don't get on him about it because I know he would never have missed it intentionally."

Daniel Hopewell had two catches for 16 yards against Texas-El Paso in 2002. He's not made a catch yet this year, but he has made several tackles on kickoff returns.

His brother, Andrew, a sophomore walk-on running back, has blocked two punts, including one he returned for a touchdown, and been so impressive on special teams that twice he's been named a game captain. However, he's doubtful for Saturday's game after spraining an ankle last week at Vanderbilt.

"This year has really been fun for both of us," Daniel Hopewell said. "Bear (Andrew) is here and we are both getting to play some. I know Dad has really enjoyed this year and getting to see both of us play for Kentucky."

Daniel Hopewell also came to UK as a walk-on. He earned a scholarship this year and is just glad he's been able to combine with his brother, who scored a rushing touchdown in 2002, to make the Hopewell name known once again.

"There was never any jealousy between Bear and me," Daniel Hopewell said. "It was more of a competition thing. It was like if he can do it, I can do it. I'm glad to see him succeed. He's really helping the Hopewell name becoming even more known. I like going out and having people say, 'Hopewell, I've heard that name.'"

Actually, he's heard his name called a lot by the friends he's made at Kentucky. He recently had receivers Derek Abney, Tommy Cook, Chris Bernard and Gerard Parker over to his family's farm near Burgin to camp during UK's open weekend. He's made friends with more players than he'll probably ever be able to remember.

Sometimes he wondered if walking on at Kentucky rather than going to a smaller school was the right decision. Now he knows it was right for him.

"I remember my senior year at Harrodsburg when I got offers from some small schools, and then UK offered me a chance to be a preferred walk-on," Daniel Hopewell said. "I knew right then I was coming to Kentucky.

"I could have gone to a smaller in-state school and probably started four years and had an opportunity to be an All-American. But I have no regrets about the choice I made."

He plans to stay in the Lexington area after graduation and hopes to work as a financial advisor in a brokerage firm. That way he can watch his brother play the next two years and also stay in contact with other friends on the team.

When he does walk on the Commonwealth Stadium turf for the final time next week when UK hosts Tennessee, he'll have plenty to remember. From playing under Hal Mumme, Guy Morriss and Rich Brooks to the seven-overtime loss to Arkansas to the Bluegrass Miracle by LSU in 2002 to the record-setting performance by Derek Abney to the antics of Jared Lorenzen.

"I would tell anyone willing to work that coming here as a walk-on is the right thing to do," Daniel Hopewell said. "You have to accept that scholarship guys start out ahead of you and that you have to make a name for yourself.

"I thought by this year that I would get significant playing time, but I didn't. Still, I don't regret what I did. I've had a heck of a time here and if I had to do it over, I would do the same thing."

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