It’s been a while since anybody from Delaware County suited up for the Oklahoma Sooner football team. But that drought came to an end when Grove’s Ben Hampton arrived in Norman.
Ben, the son of Kim and David Hampton and older brother of Kellea and Case, walked on as a long snapper for nationally rated Oklahoma. And as a result he can be seen every Saturday handling the snapping duties on all extra points and field goals for the high flying Sooner offense.
Home for the first time in over four months, Ben was in great demand at Friday’s Muldrow/Grove playoff game and was kind enough to sit down for an interview.
In addition to his duties on the field, the extremely likable 21 year old is majoring in Chemistry and is on schedule to graduate on time with his class. And the true college junior confesses that, “It really is more of a challenge, but I’m starting to figure things a little.”
On top of his full time class load, Hampton is committed to football practice four hours a day, Monday thru Thursday, with a full-scale walk thru on Fridays. But, when asked what in particular he doesn’t like about his schedule, he answered with a big grin stating, “Right now, there honestly isn’t anything that I would change. I mean, I get to run out on the field after a touchdown to the sound of 85,000 screaming fans. It’s great!”
After graduating from Grove, Hampton took his snapping skills
to Northeastern Oklahoma State, where he picked up an associates degree in natural sciences. In between school and football he attended snapper/kicking schools, not the least of which was the Ray Guy (3 time Super Bowl Champion) Academy, where he was rated as one of the top 10 long snappers in the nation.
Hampton and his father David give the lion’s share of credit for his success to Shane Hackney of “Snap Doctor.Com.” Hackney, who is credited with over 400 perfect snaps in his 4 year career at New Mexico State, is considered one of the nation’s preeminent snap instructors. After Hackney mentioned that he wanted to expand into different markets, David put him in touch with then Grove head coach, Rob Green. And as a result, Hackney will be holding his sixth snapping camp at Grove this spring.
Ben is quick to defend the eccentricities and often-misunderstood attitude of kickers, commenting, “You can’t imagine the pressure that’s on these guys. While the rest of the offense is getting into a certain rhythm, he’ll stand over on the sideline, cold. Then when the heat is on, he’s called on to deliver. I’m not saying I know every thing about them, but I understand that you just have to let kickers be kickers, no matter what that means.”
Following his time on the OU football team, Ben intends to
study dentistry with an eye on eventually going into private practice.
Football is something of a family business around the Hampton household, as Ben is the 3rd All-State player from his brood. His father David and grandfather, Kelly Hampton, were also All-Stater’s from Grove. But in a wickedly ironic twist, worthy of O’Henry, the elder Hamptons were dyed in the wool Oklahoma State fans when Ben decided to walk on for the archrival Sooners. When it came to describing his feelings, Ben’s father, David said, “Yeah, that ol’ Crimson burns a little bit when you first put it on, but you get used to it. And heck, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing when you’re watching your kid.”
Grandfather Kelly was just as humorous in his assessment of his crossed allegiance, saying, “I’ve got one year, two months and about seven days before I can break out my Cowboy Orange. Until that time, Ben’s grandmother will help me to get through it.”
Because of his extended absence and his need to miss the upcoming holiday in preparation for the Oklahoma State ball game, Ben and his family took the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving together this past Saturday.
Ben is #63 for the Sooners and can sometimes be hard to spot between a pair of wide-bodied 6’5’ guards, Duke Robinson (#72) at 335 lbs, and 305 lbs Brian Simmons (#74). But Hampton shuns the publicity saying that, “The only time that they mention your name is when you do something bad.” And with another big grin, he added, “If you want to follow a number, I’d suggest that you follow #14” (OU’s record-setting QB Sam Bradford).