Hampton back in PG spotlight

Photo: Maurice Hampton (Perfect Game)

Nate Schweers
Published: Friday, July 27, 2018

EMERSON, Ga. – Over Labor Day weekend in September of 2016, Maurice Hampton Jr. was among the first group of players to participate in the 14u Perfect Game Select Festival. A chance for the best 14u players in the country to compete alongside one another, the Select Festival gives scouts and fans a glimpse into what the future might hold for these young stars.

Fast forward to this past June and the Perfect Game National Showcase. As a participant in the National Showcase, Hampton found himself on the short list to accomplish his dream of becoming a Perfect Game All-American once more.

“Playing in the Select Festival in 2016 was a great experience because I got to play with and against the best players in my age group,” said Hampton. “After that experience, whether or not I would play in the All-American game was always in the back of my head. Feeling what it was like to be an All-American at the 14u level really drove me to work hard over the next two or three years.”

After an impressive showing at the National Showcase, that dream of being an All-American became a reality last week as Hampton heard his name called during the 2018 Perfect Game All-American Classic Selection Show.

Hampton, a rising senior from Arlington, Tennessee, will be representing his hometown as a member of the West Squad at this year’s PG All-American Classic. A week full of friends, philanthropy and America’s pastime will conclude with a game at Petco Park on August 12.

One of the things that make the All-American Classic so special is that it is about more than just baseball. Every player in attendance at the Classic will get the chance to visit Rady Children’s Hospital leading up to the game. With all the proceeds of the game going to pediatric cancer research and treatment, this is a special moment for the players.

“Going to the children’s hospital is definitely something I look forward to. I remember going at the Select Festival, and being able to brighten up a kids’ day that is not as fortunate as you is special.”

Outside of that, Hampton is looking forward to competing on the big stage on last time before he starts his senior year at the Memphis University School.

“This is going to be my last event of the summer and really my last event ever in the summer for baseball; so, I’m just looking forward to going out there and having fun with the best guys in my class. It’s going to be a great experience, and for it to end my travel ball career, I just want to go out there and have fun.”

While many Perfect Game All-Americans will continue to play baseball into the summer of 2019 before heading to campus or the professional ranks, Hampton will report to the gridiron at Louisiana State University after graduation in hopes of seeing the field in LSU’s 2019 football opener against Georgia Southern.

A 4-star cornerback on the football side, Hampton will be a dual-sport athlete at LSU. Hampton was constantly looking for the best fit when it came to playing both sports, and after some thought LSU became the clear choice.

“LSU has always been my dream school, and since I’m playing both sports in college I was looking for a good balance that they were able to offer me,” Hampton said of his college commitment. “The flexibility from the coaching staff to play both sports is really what sold me.”

In a time where many athletes are starting to specialize in one sport from an early age, Perfect Game’s 36th-best player in the 2019 class has been able to use his experiences in both football and baseball to become the best athlete he can be.

“Wherever I went to college, I knew I wanted to play both. Knowing I get to keep playing both sports that I love is a really cool thing, and hopefully I can keep playing them for as long as I can.”

Hampton is a phenomenal athlete that runs a 6.44-second 60-yard dash and has a knack for running down balls in the outfield. When you combine that speed with his power potential at the plate, it no wonder he is such an elite level athlete in both the outfield and the secondary.

“Tracking balls in the outfield and covering someone on the football field are really alike in terms of skill set. I think that being able to track down balls and making adjustments to the ball at cornerback make the two sports go hand in hand. As I get better at one of them, I get better at both of them.”

A group of high-level athletes are taking the spotlight at this year’s Perfect Game All-American Classic, and Hampton isn’t the only player that has plans to play football and baseball at the next level. The East Squad will feature star center fielder and running back Jerrion Ealy. Ealy is committed to playing both sports at Mississippi, and he and Hampton could meet at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium when the Tigers come to town in the fall of 2019.

“I could tackle him in the open field for sure,” Hampton laughed when asked of the possibility of meeting Ealy on the football field.

Time will tell if Hampton’s confidence will hold true, but until then, he is just trying to enjoy his time as a teenager while its still here. Though his schedule can be busy while trying to juggle two sports, Hampton likes to relax during the brief downtime he gets.

“Honestly, I am just a really laid back guy,” Hampton said. “I don't really get into or do a lot of crazy things, but I like to hangout with my friends. I’m a guy that enjoys my family and my friends, I go to church on Sunday’s, find time to fish, and I am really just a guy that works hard and does what he is supposed to do.”

When Hampton arrives in San Diego for the first time next month, he will be realizing a dream that has come full circle since that Labor Day weekend in Fort Myers. While many other players will eventually partake in both the Select Festival and All-American Classic, Hampton is the first, and no one can ever take that away.

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