Western Michigan head football coach P.J. Fleck’s mantra is ‘row the boat.’ Piedmont kicker Butch Hampton is ready to row.
Hampton signed a financial aid agreement with Western Michigan on Wednesday and plans to enroll at the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based school in January. He will officially become Piedmont’s first FBS-level signee since 2007 on National Signing Day in February.
But for Hampton, his college experience begins in 19 days when he heads north for Michigan.
“For me, if I could be a freshman in January instead of being a freshman in August, that benefits me for school and football,” he said. “There’s no way that it won’t help in the long run.”
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound prospect hopes the early enrollment will give him a better chance to earn a starting position right away. Initially, Hampton, who kicked, punted and handled kickoff duties in high school, hopes to win the starting placekicker job and go from there.
“I’m best at field goals. That’s what I would say is my strong suit,” said Hampton. “But my senior year, at the latest, I would love to be doing all three.”
Hampton has been a standout for Piedmont since his sophomore season. He holds numerous school records including longest punt (65 yards), longest made field goal, (44 yards) and most made field goals in a game (three). In his career, Hampton booted 56 of his 78 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Although the financial aid agreement does not bind Hampton to sign with Western Michigan, he said he fully intends to and can’t wait to get started with one of the top programs in the MAC.
“For me, I wanted to go somewhere that won, and they do that,” he said. “Coach Fleck and coach Rob Wenger (special teams coordinator), I’m going to Western Michigan for them and who they have there. They’re a process-driven program. They’re a team that’s going to be good every single year.”
Hampton is rated as a two-star prospect by rivals.com and is considered as one of the top prep kickers in the country.
Western Michigan is 6-4 this season and will take on Northern Illinois tonight at 7 p.m. in a game televised by ESPN2.