Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

November 6, 2013

Hopper’s huge day

Northeastern State running back turns in career day vs. Bearcats

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

Steven Hopper expected to be racking up tackles — not avoiding them — in 2013.

Northeastern State’s 6-foot, 190-pound sophomore started the year at strong safety behind Victor Johnson. He played against both Pittsburg State and Missouri Southern but didn’t record a tackle in either contest.

“Safety was the position he had been recruited at out of high school,” Northeastern State head coach Kenny Evans said of Hopper, who originally committed to the University of Houston before signing with NSU in 2010. “Houston was going to play him (at safety). We’re just glad he’s here.”

Then, as NSU’s injuries started to mount up after only two weeks into the regular season, Hopper was asked to return a position that he was quite familiar with in high school: running back.

Hopper nickel and dimed yardage against Emporia State and Washburn for a grand total of 23 yards on 11 carries, but then he posted an 86-yard performance against Northwest Missouri State in Week 5. He started to gain more playing time as the season trudged along, seeing plenty of action against both Eastern New Mexico and Central Missouri.

Then came a day he won’t soon forget over the weekend.

Hopper carried the ball 25 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns, resulting in the first NSU player to rush for 200-plus yards since Carlton Booe did it in 1999.

Not bad for a guy who thought he’d still be trying to shut down opposing offenses.

“I expected the whole entire year to play safety,” said Hopper, a former standout at Broken Arrow High School. “Never once did I think I was going to get the opportunity to come back to running back. We had a lot of running backs early on...so I didn’t expect to get back to running back this year. I’m very thankful and very blessed to have the opportunity again.”

Hopper was instrumental in the RiverHawks snapping an eight-game losing streak with a 31-3 victory over Southwest Baptist at Doc Wadley Stadium. He was well on his way to career-high yardage and touchdown totals after his 49-yard scoring run in the second quarter.

“Steven’s got great vision, which is the No. 1 quality that a running back has to have,” Evans said of Hopper, who only rushed for more than 200 yards only once in high school — a 307-yard performance in 2009 against Sand Springs (which had current teammates, Terrance Dixon and Johnny Deaton, on the roster).

“(Hopper) was able to find some things when there wasn’t much there.”

Of course, none of Hopper’s production at NSU would be possible without Evans’ trip to Tulsa last winter.

During the offseason, Evans ventured into a Planet Fitness in the Tulsa area and tracked down Hopper — who had all but retired from collegiate athletics. But Evans did a little persuading and was able to get Hopper to rejoin the RiverHawks after he had played in nine games as a freshman in 2009.

“We had a big talk back in December of 2012...and we had talked about me getting back on the field,” Hopper said. “...After recruiting was over and things like that, (Evans) gave me a phone call and said that they would be able to give me a spot on the team.

“At that point, I was pretty much committed, because if God can open one door, he can open it again. So I had closed it once before and it had been opened again, so I was very thankful and I knew that was what I really wanted to do.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • ropin-make-a-wish.jpg Dirteater, others help Make-A-Wish

    The event will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Tickets are $5, with kids 6 and under free.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Photo-for-Shinn-story.jpg Coaches preview Sooners season

    Toby Rowland addressed the elephant in the room even before Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel arrived at Journey Church on Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Date set for Keys football physicals

    Before scheduled practices can begin in order to prepare for the season, players must first receive a physical.
    Next Tuesday, Aug. 5, Keys High School will be administering physicals in the high school cafeteria.

    July 31, 2014

  • Keys-Dakota.jpg Playing both sides of the line

    Recently, Keys High School football standout Dakota Matlock was nearly severely injured in a terrifying car wreck.

    Matlock is coming off a stellar gridiron season for Keys High School. On offense, Matlock ran for over 1,000 yards for the Cougars. In his sophomore season, Matlock led Keys in tackles from the safety position.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bassmaster.jpg Crossing, and fishing, the Delaware

    Bassmaster Elite Series anglers to compete Aug. 7

    BASS has fished out of some legendary venues over the years (including Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans), but never Philadelphia, which is host of the Bassmaster Elite at Delaware River, Aug. 7-10, 2014.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mison.jpg Mixon’s attorney says incident with woman self-defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Stocks