To Be the Man, You Got to Beat the Man
With the depth of this quarterback room. (3 players with Division 1 playing experience) and with all the excitement over the recruitment of Jacob Zeno there is still one thing that will hold true going into spring camp...
"To be the man, you have to beat the man."
And that man right now is Redshirt Senior Dylan Hopkins. The Maryville, TN native made it clear in the final game against BYU that coming into the 2022 season he holds the keys to the Blazer offense. If you want to drive this car, you need to take it from him.
Out of high school Dylan was a 6A State Championship leading quarterback who was All-State and a finalist for Tennessee's Mr. Football. He was rated the number 2 dual-threat quarterback in the state of Tennessee. Dylan not only knows how to win but he also knows how to compete. That is something he will have to do this year as he will be leading a packed quarterback room.
Hopkins' UAB career has seen its share of ups and downs. He spent his first year in 2018 as a Redshirt Freshman getting settled into the speed of the college game. In 2019 he was set as the back-up to Tyler Johnston III. He kept himself ready in case his number was called and sure enough an unfortunate injury to Tyler led to Dylan taking over against none other than the University of Tennessee. UT was a school located a mere twenty minutes north of Maryville, the town Dylan called home. Dylan came in to the game that day and went 3 for 8 passing while connecting for a touchdown, much to the delight of many family and friends who were in the stands. He went on to play in five more games that season racking up 563 yards passing, 217 yards rushing and was named to the CUSA All-Freshmen Team. The last few games that year he shared time with TJ3 who had come back from his earlier injury.
2020 looked to be the year that Hopkins would challenge for the starting role. He showed his capabilities the year before and looked to keep building upon that. Unfortunately, Hopkins went down to injury and had to sit out the entire season. That paved way for 3rd string quarterback Bryson Lucero to step into the back-up role. That back-up role did not last long for Lucero. Tyler was injured during the third game that year (Miami FL) and had to take some time off. That led to Lucero getting the start in 5 of the 7 games he played that season. All the while Hopkins was watching from the sidelines, knowing his time was coming. Knowing that soon he would get his shot to become the man.
Fast forward to 2021, Hopkins was the back-up quarterback behind Tyler Johnston III to open the year. After seeing action in a role that saw both quarterbacks sharing time in the first 3 games of the season, Hopkins was thrust into the starting role against Tulane on September 25th. Hopkins would take the reins of the offense and never let it go the rest of the season. Hopkins was 7-3 as the starting quarterback throwing for 2274 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 5 touchdowns. Hopkins went 155 of 235 which is a completion percentage of 66% making him one of the more efficient quarterbacks in Division One. Hopkins also led UAB to a big-time bowl victory over the 13th ranked BYU Cougars in the Independence Bowl. That win marked one of the biggest wins in program history and also sealed Hopkins's status as an all-time Blazer when he connected a pass to Trea Shropshire for what ended up being the winning touchdown.
Hopkins will come into this season with a role that he has not had since his time on the Southside. That role is QB1. Hopkins retains the offense he has known for years as well as the offensive coordinator. Do we have some talent in that quarterback room this year? Absolutely! Can any number of them take that QB1 spot? Sure! But there is one thing that you can bet for sure...if they want to be the man, you got to beat the man. That man right now, is Dylan Hopkins.