Pine-Richland grad Hampson earns starting spot on Princeton's defensive lines
Pine-Richland alumnus Matt Hampson left a noticeable impression on the Rams football program.
The member of the high school's highest honor roll helped the team win a WPIAL title as a junior before going on to be named to the all-state team as an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman as a senior.
So when Hampson arrived at Princeton last year, there were more than a few adjustments he had to make. In short, he had to prove what he could do all over again.
“Freshman year was definitely a challenge,” he said. “There were a lot of unexpected things. It was a big jump from high school, and a lot of development really occurred for me. I was mainly playing scout- team defense.
“It was a new feeling, going from being at the top of the hill in my senior year of high school to the bottom of the barrel as a freshman in college. But I really took on that role, and I took pride in it. I feel like it helped me take a lot of steps toward playing and contributing this year.”
His hard work and positive attitude already have started to pay off. Through two games, Hampson has locked down a starting job on the Tigers defensive line.
Again, there were adjustments to be made as he had to learn a new position in a 3-4 defensive scheme that differed from Pine-Richland's base 4-3 defense. Hampson was up to the task.
“I rotate this season. I play defensive tackle and defensive end,” he said. “With our line depth right now, I've learned both positions so I can contribute from both spots.
“I got most of the snaps during the first game. I'd say I played 60-plus snaps. It was a hot game, so our conditioning was really tested against the University of San Diego, but we came out on top.”
While the 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive gap-plugger is pleased with his opportunity to contribute at such an early juncture, he said he is more excited about his Tigers' 2-0 start.
“On a personal level, my set goal was to be the starter, and so far it's worked out, and I'm grateful for that chance,” Hampson said. “But I'm more focused on the team. I could care less about myself as long as we win the Ivy League and as long as we go out there and win 10 games this season.”
Princeton will begin Ivy League play at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at home against Columbia.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.