Scouting the Aurora Christian Eagles
Any college football coach who rings up Aurora Christian coach David Beebe to discuss quarterback Ethan Hampton better have a good data plan because it will be a long conversation.
The sixth-year coach simply can't say enough about the 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior who last season threw for 2,457 yards and 31 touchdowns on 193-of-329 passing (58.7%)
Hampton, a 4.0 student his coach calls "an absolute brainiac," has already visited Iowa three times and Northwestern twice.
"There is a lot of high-level interest for good reason," Beebe said. "He is such a quality young man. He has grown two inches and added 20 pounds. Along with that he throws the ball harder and he has gotten faster so his roll outs are different, his drops are deeper and he will be able to take off if he needs to."
Running the ball is something Aurora Christian intends to do more than a year ago, when the Eagles passed for 2,526 yards and rushed for 1,022. Beebe took over as offensive coordinator last season after 15 years as defensive coordinator and decided to make some off-season changes.
"We need to be more balanced and more difficult to defend this year," he said, "especially, late in the season when weather makes it harder to throw the ball. We have the line, backs, quarterback and wide receivers to do it."
Hampton will hand the ball off to Josh Dornink, the fastest player in program history. The junior played cornerback last year and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He recently broke the program record at the Aurora Christian combine when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds.
"He is really put together well," Beebe said. "No one knows about him yet, but they are going to learn." Junior fullback Jackson Certa (6-1, 185) will also get some carries. Also a starting outside linebacker, his coach calls Certa "old-school tough."
Hampton lost three of his top four targets to graduation, including all-state pick Caleb Beebe, but two notable receivers return. JP Jira, a 6-3, 180-pound senior, nabbed 18 catches for 168 catches and 2 touchdowns last fall. Sophomore Danny New (5-10, 145) gained a starting role late in the regular season and never relinquished it.
The offensive line is anchored by senior Angel Jaimes, a team captain along with Hampton and Jira. Jaimes (5-9, 230), a wrestler, moves from tackle to guard. Also returning are left tackle Bryce Henderson (6-8, 275) and center Keegan Delaney (6-3, 235).
Jaimes (end) and Henderson (tackle) also play defense. Noe Morrero returns to play outside linebacker opposite Certa. Junior Anthony Clevenger started all last year at cornerback and is versatile enough to play linebacker, his coach said. New returns at safety.
Others in the secondary include sophomores Trey Beebe, Dan Beebe's son, and sophomore Niko Zepeda, a player Beebe said has improved more year over year than any player he can remember.
Beebe hopes what he called "an unselfish team" can compete for the top spot in the Metro Suburban Blue, which includes defending Class 4A state champion IC Catholic Prep and 4A runner-up Bishop McNamara.
"There are no egos on this team," he said. "It's just a bunch of kids that enjoy playing the game together. They don't care about stats or how they look and want no part of Twitter-land in the age of look at me."