During his junior year of high school, Victor Hampton got the NFL’s shield logo tattooed on his left arm. He’s now on the verge of fulfilling that prediction.
“My mom always told me I would be successful in this sport, and I always believed it,” Hampton said Sunday at the NFL Combine.
It was at the same time that Hampton realized the mistakes he was making as a teenager — that contributed to his attending four high schools — would have to be answered for if he was going to be a professional football player.
“I have known since 10th or 11th grade that NFL people would know everything about you,” he said. “That’s the thing that has been tough about my reputation and trying to change it for so long. Hopefully, they believe in me and think that I am a reliable guy.”
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He does not begrudge the questions he is getting from NFL executives here, he said.
“They are putting millions of dollars in you so I don’t think it can be too personal,” he said. “My reputation is my reputation. I am just here to prove people wrong. That’s just what I have to do right now. Hopefully, when people meet me in person they will see what kind of person I am.”
Hampton, 5-foot-9, 197 pounds, had 105 tackles and five interceptions in three seasons at South Carolina.
“His talent is in the second- or third-round range,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “I don’t know if he’ll go that early.”
Hampton believes he should or even earlier. He is not one of the most celebrated cornerbacks in this year’s draft class. In fact, he’s not even in NFL.com’s top five, which includes Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, TCU’s Jason Verrett, Ohio State’s Bradley Roby and Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner. Still, Hampton thinks he’s the best of the bunch.
“Why not?” he said. “I am very aware of (the other guys). You always look at your competition. I watch ESPN. I don’t see my name at all. It is definitely motivation to change that.”
He can do that, he says, by “just going out there running a good 40 time, showing my feet in the backpedals and catching every ball that is thrown to me.” Hampton’s on-field workouts will come Tuesday.
“The best part (of the combine) for me is meeting with all the teams so they can really get a great feel for who I am and seeing my personality and the type of guy I am. That’s the most exciting part for me,” he said. “The hardest part, I’d probably say so far has been the lack of sleep, getting up in two or three hours and doing all the testing.”