By Tony Burns
El Dorado’s Terry Hampton missed his entire senior season of football due to a knee injury. But, the talented defensive lineman highlighted the college football signing day Wednesday when he officially signed a scholarship to play at Arkansas State University.
Hampton led a talented class of Wildcats, who signed to play collegiate football, joining Taliq Ellis (OBU), Kentravious Moore (OBU), Mon-Tré Marshall (Henderson State), Denzel Walter (Henderson State) and Tyrek Rucks (SAU).
“It’s a very talented class,” said El Dorado coach Scott Reed. “We’re proud to have that many sign. That’s rare. At one time, we had 13 or 14 playing college ball at one time. And, this is 11 straight years that we’ve had somebody sign. Six is a huge class. We’re going to have 10 or 11 guys playing college football next year at different places.
“The recruiting deal has gotten more and more heated. I’m proud of how all of them handled it. I’m looking forward to watching them play in the future.”
Hampton (6-1, 264) did not play as a senior due to a knee injury and played just five games in his last two seasons at El Dorado. As a junior, he amassed 26 tackles with four tackles for loss, 11 QB pressures, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a blocked punt and a touchdown, despite missing most of the season with an appendicitis.
He suffered an ACL injury during the summer before his senior year.
“The impressive thing to me is he dressed out every day, went through stretch, did everything he possibly could. We were hopeful we could get him back this year but, honestly, the best thing for his future was for him not to play,” said Reed.
“After having knee surgery like that, you really need the better part of a year. He’s going to get, basically, a year of recovery. He has a good future.
“Very impressed with Arkansas State for sticking with him. They offered him as a junior and he committed to them. They’ve wanted him, no matter what. He’s very talented and I think his best football is, obviously, still ahead of him.”
Ellis (5-10, 170) moved to El Dorado from Lincoln, Nebraska.
He transitioned from cornerback to receiver and led the Wildcats with 34 receptions for 753 yards with eight touchdowns.
With the ball in his hands, Ellis displayed Division I explosiveness and could be a steal for Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
“For a wide receiver, he’s very physical and he’s also quick. I don’t know what his top-end 40 speed is. The other thing is, he’s not 6-1. They’re all wanting big, tall wide receivers,” said Reed.
“Ouachita came in an offered him an awful lot. He had some other people looking at him and there were some bigger schools looking at him a little bit.
“But, I think with what they had to offer and the package they put together, plus they got on him early. I think he was just very comfortable with them.
“They told him they may play him on both (offense and defense). He can play on either side of the ball. He’s rare. He’s a good tackler. He’s a good cover guy.
“He has good hands, good savvy. He’s physical. He has the tools to play on either side of the ball, which gives him an advantage of playing early.
“I know they were very excited about him. They were comparing him to Allie Freeman, another kid they have, as a dynamic, inside receiver-type guy.”
Moore (6-1, 270) started at left guard for El Dorado but could also play on either side of the ball at Ouachita Baptist.
As a senior, he focused primarily on offense, recording just eight tackles in limited duty on the defensive line.
“For awhile I thought Kentravious would go to another school because he wanted to play defense.
“They made it clear they thought he was an offensive guard,” said Reed.
“They liked his athletic ability. They pull their guards a lot. I thought he was leaning another way.
“There were a couple schools that were interested in him playing defense.
“But, he felt like he fit at OBU. I know the offensive line coach has been on him since he was a junior.
“It kind of paid off for them there.”
Marshall (6-0, 215) led El Dorado with 122 total tackles with four tackles for loss, including two sacks.
He had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
Henderson State has no initial plans to move him from his linebacker position.
“His came down to the wire. But, that’s where he’s always wanted to go,” said Reed.
“He actually visited there last week. That’s been his top choice all along.
“They’re more of a 4-2-5 team like we were the past two years. They say he’ll be an inside guy.”
Walter (6-3, 300) played right guard for the Wildcats but could switch positions for the Reddies.
“Denzel went to some camps in the summer and there were some schools who got interested in him as a nose (guard) because of his size and he uses his hands well, plays with good leverage,” said Reed.
“He has great strength. He can eat up gaps. He’s the kind of guy you look for in a 3-4 to play the nose.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Denzel didn’t play nose in college.”
Rucks (6-1, 220) transferred from Smackover where he played defensive end.
He moved to linebacker at El Dorado and had 78 tackles with 13 tackles for losses, including three sacks.
He had two fumble recoveries and one interception returned for a touchdown.
Like Ellis, Rucks received Division I looks and could be a steal for Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.
“He was offered a visit to Eastern Illinois last week. They had offered him over the phone,” said Reed.
“He felt like SAU was where he wanted to be. It was home to him. I think he’s got some guys he’s played with before that are there.
“He didn’t even want to go on other visits. I know he turned down some other visits because he wanted to be at SAU.”
El Dorado went 9-2 this season. Reed said some other Wildcats could also play at the next level.
“This group of six guys, they’re talented. You look at film, they won their battles. They don’t just qualify because of a certain height or weight or bench press, they can play ball. We’re losing a good group of kids this year, even more than the ones that signed,” he said.
“I think there are a couple other kids that are trying to decide where they want to be in school or if they might want to walk-on somewhere. I think that could happen. Six signed today and we could have some more in a camp.”