Tag Archives: East Carolina

Just in the Nick of time

There has to be a place for Appalachian State’s Nick Hampton on the next level.

If there is a play to be made, the Mountaineer will find a way to make it. In 2022, he changed his number from 31 to nine. There has been no subtraction from his steady four-year run of production.

Over the course of the last four seasons (through 10-2-22), Hampton has tallied 36 tackles for losses. That total includes 24.5 quarterback sacks.

Not bad for a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder.

Nick Hampton OLB Appalachian State
There are few defenders who have been productive as Mountaineers OLB Nick Hampton.

So how does he consistently win rushing the passer?

Although relatively high in his two-point stance, he can turn the corner when running the hoop. Hampton uses his 81-inch wingspan to keep blockers off of his frame when twisting from the outside-in on stunts (3rd and 9, 3rd QTR, ECU ’21).

Cleaning up the false step that he has getting out of his two-point stance at either outside linebacker spot could be a focus. Even with it, he transfers speed-to-power on occasion versus much bigger offensive tackles.

Nick Hampton lines up on the kickoff team
Nick Hampton has made a number of plays on the team’s kickoff team during the course of his career.

Team have to prepare for the work he puts forth on the kick coverage units as well, where his skill at dislodging from blockers has paid dividends in the past (see 1st QTR, ECU ’21).

In 2022, Hampton has gotten off to another fast start after finishing second in the Sun Belt Conference with 11 quarterback sacks as a junior.

The former Westside High School (S.C.) product puts up amazing numbers in the weight room (600-lb sumo deadlift according to Appalachian State’s website-https://appstatesports.com/sports/football/roster/nick-hampton/7624) and matches them with similar production on the field. He should impress with his testing numbers whenever he declares for the draft.

However, it is the numbers he puts up on the field that continue to draw praise from opposing teams.

Want proof?

Check out his miles per hour when chasing some of college football’s fastest players (runs down ECU RB Keaton Mitchell, 3rd QTR, ECU ’21).

Mitchell hit 22.6 miles per hour on an 81-yard touchdown run against Old Dominion in 2022. This is this fastest time recorded in college football this season.

So how fast is Hampton?

He gets to most of his destinations in just the Nick of time.

Q&A with former North Carolina DB MJ Stewart

There wasn’t a lot that former North Carolina defensive back MJ Stewart couldn’t do in school.  He would often change intermittently between positions on drives during games.  We caught up with the former Tar Heel during the 2018 Senior Bowl to discuss what he brings to an NFL franchise.

Former North Carolina DB MJ Stewart played cornerback, nickel back and returned punts for the Tar Heels.

DN: You had so much experience coming into the week having played outside, played inside, sometimes intermittently during games (at North Carolina). And then this week (Senior Bowl), you did a little bit of that as well. You seemed active and comfortable going against a number of receivers and you also looked real comfortable returning kicks. Talk a little bit about that.

Stewart: This is something I’ve been doing for awhile, you know. People didn’t know that. So this week was a good opportunity for me to show people that I could outside and inside. And I can return in the kicking game, too. For me, it’s something I’ve been doing for awhile so it’s nothing new to me, but it is new to a lot of people. I wanted to come out here and turn some heads.

DN: One of your teammates that you were kind of in concert with quite a bit during your career was Donnie Miles. It seemed like you and him on the field were real good in terms of communication. Talk a little bit about that connection and really how that all came about.

Stewart: That’s my boy, man. Donnie’s my boy. This past year we roomed together. We just wanted to build that connection even further on the field. Sometimes we’d be up late studying. We go to the film room together and we see things from each other’s point of view so we’re on the same page.

DN: You go to the NC State game, you’re able to look-and-lean down the field. Made some plays in that game when you were challenged. You had to be the leader on the defense after losing Andre Smith a little bit earlier in the season, and then also  (Cole) Holcomb, you lost him a little earlier as well. With those injuries, how much was the onus on you to step up even more as a leader?

Stewart: It was big. With all those vocal leaders down, I had to step up and be the big vocal leader. I tried to encompass that as best as I could.

DN: Who was the toughest receiver that you went against in your career and what was the one game you’d like for NFL scouts to see?

Stewart: Toughest receiver in my career. It’s hard. I’m a big believer in everybody’s good until you prove otherwise. You can’t sleep on anybody. But I’d have to say Justin Hardy (Atlanta Falcons) from ECU. When I played him I was a freshman and still trying to get my feet under me. And he was a veteran receiver so it was nice going against him. He was strong, very active, good routes. It was good seeing that early in my career.

DN: And then what was that one game you’d like for scouts to maybe point to for you in your career? Any year.

Stewart: I’d have to say this past year Miami (Fla.). I definitely was locked in. I’m locked in every game but I turned it up that game.

DN: No doubt man, best of luck in the draft.

Stewart: Thank you.

—-2018 Senior Bowl practices, DraftNasty staff reports

UPDATE: Stewart -ranked 57th on DraftNasty’s 2018 Big Board (No. 2 all-purpose player)- was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 57th overall pick (2nd Round) in the 2018 NFL Draft.