Texans' New Unique Weapon
The Giant Hands Man: DeAndre Hopkins 3XLs wow NFL vets, will make him top rookie
It used to annoy the Clemson University coaches. They saw it as breach of football's fundamentals, looked at it as more of a parlor trick than a legitimate weapon.
But it's quickly becoming DeAndre Hopkins claim to early NFL fame.
The Houston Texans rookie wide receiver is becoming the one-hand catch man, part budding mythic practice legend, part early Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite. Sure, there's the video of Hopkins making 33 consecutive one-handed grabs. And the highlight, announcing-his-arrival one-handed catch on the very first day of rookie mini camp (call it Hopkins' version of a hello).
He wears 3XL gloves and can almost look like Shaquille O'Neal when he has a ball in his palm.
But it's the now near everyday occurrence of the whole thing that has the Texans veterans buzzing in training camp. While that and the sheer size of Hopkins hands. He wears 3XL gloves and can almost look like Shaquille O'Neal when he has a ball in his palm.
"He has great hands," Texans Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson says. "I've never seen anybody one hand the ball like he does."
Hopkins is almost a little sheepish about his one-handed skill. "My coaches in college were telling me it's a bad habit, which I agree it is," he tells CultureMap. "It's just something that I would sometimes do after practice."
Now it's become part of his arsenal and no small part of the reason the Texans vets see such promise in this late first-round receiver. Receivers taken later in the first round and early in the second round of the NFL Draft have some recent history of struggling (the talent-packed Stephen Hill confounded the Jets with some of his drops last season). But Hopkins supersized hands give him an edge others don't have.
He's clearly an upgrade over Kevin Walter, who slipped behind Denver's defense to catch that 52-yard Matt Schaub bomb in Week Three last season and then seemed to disappear. Hopkins is the most talented threat Andre Johnson has ever have lined up on the other side from him.
"Our expectations are through the roof for him coming in," Schaub says. "He’s going to get a ton of opportunities. We put him in there right from day one and playing opposite Dre, he is going to get plenty of one-on-one coverage and chances to get the football.
"We’re going to get him the football and were going to get him a chance to make plays with it in his hands and he’s going to do that."
There's talk of those hands again. His college coaches didn't complain when he caught difficult passes with one paw during the games. Or when he decimated SEC power LSU for 13 catches and 191 yards in a bowl game — after Clemson's only other real legitimate receiving threat went down with an injury. Not that Hopkins wants any part in building any early mystique around himself.
"I feel like a lot of guys can do it," Hopkins says of the one-handed grabs. "I haven’t played a game or a single snap in the NFL yet. I don’t want to rave too much about it until I get in the game and do it."
He'll let his hands do the talking. When it's time.