For many high school football players, playing in the Southeastern Conference – the gold standard of college football – is atop the wish list. Sometimes, however, the chemistry just doesn’t mix and things just don’t work out as planned.
Two former Memphis-area prep football stars – Maurice Hampton and Cameron Miller – have returned to Memphis and are set to play for the University of Memphis Tigers football team during the season that begins Saturday (Sept. 2).
Hampton and Miller play in the defensive backfield. Hampton originally signed to play with LSU and Miller played last season at Tennessee.
“It feels great to be back home,” said Hampton. “I can help to bring a championship to Memphis. I am playing in front of my family and my grandmother is less than a mile from the Liberty Bowl. I am super excited for the season.”
Hampton is confident in the talent he brings to the team.
“Talent is one thing, but championship pedigree is a lot. I have won a national championship before, and I know what it takes. Bringing those experiences into the locker room and telling guys what it is, and it is not. Anyway, I can contribute to help the team will, I will do that.”
Hampton was drafted in the MLB draft coming out of high school, but he chose to go play football and baseball at LSU. He is isted on the Memphis baseball roster and plans to play for baseball Tigers in the spring.
“I am a centerfielder in baseball and a safety in football,” said Hampton. “I take my baseball skill to the football and football skills to the baseball field. You see a mix of both of them. The skills show up on both fields.”
For Miller, “It feels good to be back home playing for the city and just playing with these guys.”
He is expecting a rush of emotions coming out of the tunnel for the first game.
“Emotionally, I will be happy. I will find a place to get on the field and play. I think it is a better opportunity for a chance to play with coming home.”
As for the hardest part of transition, Miller said, “The workouts have been different. Everyone trains different. The plays and schemes I have always been able to pick that up.”
The Tennessee team he played for last season had some great receivers and Miller plans to apply lessons learned.
““Going against guys who ran faster routes and some of them are in the league now (NFL). … I didn’t go against them all the time, but I was able to take notes. It is slow to me now, because I have seen it.”
Miller and Hampton had explosive offensive careers while in high school here and each is willing to play on both sides of the ball, if needed.
Game time for Miller, Hampton and this season’s Tigers is 6 p.m. at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.