Character was a premium in Iowa’s 2009 recruiting class, and Chicago St. Rita defensive lineman Marty Hopkins exudes character.
He was a member of St. Rita’s student council for three years and served as president this year. He served as defensive team captain this season for St. Rita’s 10-2 team that made the Class 7A quarterfinals. He was also awarded the National Football Foundation’s scholar athlete award and was named academic all-state by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association. Of course, he was an honor roll student every semester at St. Rita.
Hopkins, a 6-3, 230-pound linebacker, had scholarship offers from a host of Mid-American Conference schools. He earned a ton of honors this season, including Prep Football Report defensive player of the year, Chicago Tribune and Champaign News-Gazette first-team all-state and Chicago Sun-Times all-area.
During his career, he had 214 tackles, five sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and an interception.
“[Recruiters] see he’s big and physical. You can’t teach physicalness,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska told the Sun-Times. “Some guys have that physical mentality where they like to punish guys, others do not. But it separates the good ones from the exceptional ones.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Iowa’s defensive staff is sort of in a wait-and-see mode with Hopkins, but he’s likely ticketed for defensive tackle. Ferentz hopes for a King-Kroul type.
“We thought (defensive tackle) Karl Klug would be a defensive end,” Ferentz said. “I was pretty sure of that and now he’s a defensive tackle.
“We’ll figure it out when they get here, but . . . Scott (Covert) and Martin are probably closer to that Matt Kroul and Mitch King kind of build in bodies.”
Ferentz was asked specifically what he liked about Hopkins:
“The first thing I would say is his motor,” Ferentz said. “His enthusiasm, his motor, and he’s tough. He has been awfully productive.
“We told him we weren’t sure he was a Big Ten linebacker, but we’ve done pretty well with guys who weren’t Big Ten linebackers. Mitch (King) might’ve been. Matt wasn’t. Aaron Kampman was OK as a middle linebacker.
“But the first thing was his (Hopkin’s) attitude and his motor and his aggressiveness. That jumped out at us. He was playing against good competition and ended up being a factor for his whole team.”