Hooper Aggie bound | SierraSun.com

Hooper Aggie bound

Chuck Smith/Thin Air PhotographyJohn Hooper, No. 21, leads his team onto the field before the 3A state semifinal game against Spring Creek last season.

Stumbling out to a 1-2 record, the Truckee High football team didn’t appear to be on its way to winning a state championship last season.

Then, four games deep and reeling, senior safety John Hooper returned from a hamstring injury.

“When we got him back we didn’t lose a game,” Truckee football coach Bob Shaffer said. “So he was a key piece of the puzzle we were missing early on when we weren’t winning.”

In that crucial fourth game, the Wolverines beat a tough Live Oak team 35-32 and never looked back, winning the next seven games to earn the school’s first-ever back-to-back 3A state titles.

Shaffer said that while Hooper was not the sole factor in the turnaround, he certainly played a major role. It should come as no surprise, then, that a player of Hooper’s caliber is choosing to extend his football career.

A three-sport athlete at Truckee (football, basketball and baseball), Hooper intends to walk on to the University of California Davis football team this fall.

“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s a challenge coming out of Truckee. I feel I got overlooked,” Hooper said last week after running sprints on the Truckee track in his free time. “I want to prove myself, and I think it’s a good chance for me to do that.”

To do so, Hooper said he is willing to ” and likely will ” redshirt his freshman year.

Shaffer thinks that is a good idea.

“After (redshirting), I think his chances are real good,” Shaffer said. “He’s a good athlete.”

And he’s smart. In fact, Shaffer said Hooper’s wits, as well as his leadership ability, may just be his main strengths as a football player.

“John was the type of player who led by example,” the coach said. “He came to work every single day and worked hard. And he is very intelligent, by the way. He’ll be able to pick things up by watching film, and he’s very coachable.”

Hooper, whose play last season earned him first-team all-league and first-team all-state honors, is working to improve his game before leaving for Davis.

“I’m trying to get faster, but I’m trying to get bigger also,” he said.

Thus far, Hooper has beefed up 30 pounds since the 2005 season, he said, jumping from 170 pounds to 200. He’s done it by lifting weights and “changing things in my diet.”

At Davis, Hooper said he hopes to remain at safety but is willing to switch to cornerback.

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