Hopewell Hopes to Make Impact at JMU

By: Zac Choate Email
By: Zac Choate Email

It's not every day you can show love to a kicker.

Wilson Memorial allowed only two yards a game on kick returns last season. The reason for that is James Madison-bound Ben Hopewell.

"It's unbelievable. Not many people get the chance to play at the next level, but I'm pretty excited," says Hopewell.

The Wilson graduate has been invited to join the defending CAA champs this upcoming season as a walk-on.

"He's been at camp, he's a very solid kicker," says JMU head football coach Mickey Matthews. "He kicks, he punts. We're really anxious to see what he can do."

The all-state kicker turned some heads when he boomed a 52-yard field goal against Nelson County.

"That was unreal," says Hopewell. "I actually didn't think it was going in, because I kicked it too high."

"I'll never forget it," adds Wilson Memorial head football coach Derek McDaniel. "I walked by the official, and I said, 'I bet you my paycheck he makes it,' and the guy just looked at me. After the kick, we were going in and he said, 'I guess I owe you a paycheck.' I said, 'the kid can kick.'"

That might even be a bit of an understatement. Practicing Wednesday, Hopewell was hitting from 65 and 70 yards with ease.

"I see big things for Ben at JMU once he starts solely concentrating on his kicking game," says McDaniel. "There's no limits to what he can do."

"My goal is to make the travel team, and we'll just see how it goes from there," says Hopewell. "I want to be the starter one day. I don't know how many years it will take or whether it will be this season, I don't know, but I really want to kick."

When he's not kicking at Bridgeforth Stadium in the fall, Hopewell will be studying kinesiology.

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