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December 10, 2013

Hampton close to making final college decision

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Ole Miss fans are hoping C.J. Hampton sticks to his commitment to the Rebels.

Alabama, meanwhile, continues to make a strong run for the four-star safety from Meridian, Miss., so much so that there's widespread speculation that Hampton will flip to the Crimson Tide.

Arkansas and Florida State have gotten official visits from Hampton and are hoping for an upset.

Hampton, meanwhile, is giving precious few clues regarding his future, though he admitted Tuesday following a practice at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic that he very likely knows where he will be enrolling next month.

"I kind of know," Hampton said. "I've got an idea. And I think my parents do also. I'm just chopping it up right now."

Hampton, a 6-foot-2, 196-pounder, visited Arkansas a week ago. Hampton said the trip to Fayetteville was "real snowy" and "fun." Florida State is in the mix as well, thanks to a family connection to Seminoles defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. However, it's almost a certainty Hampton ends up in Oxford or Tuscaloosa.

"I'm going to go ahead and chop it down next week, let everything be known," Hamtpon said. "I think I'll be in school in January."

Hampton committed to Ole Miss following his sophomore season. The Rebels have held on since. In the past few days, Ole Miss took its in-home visit with the Hamptons.

"Coach (Dave) Wommack, Coach (Hugh) Freeze and Coach (Jason) Jones all came," Hampton said. "They laid it everything out. My parents were impressed. They laid everything out for them. It was a pretty good visit.

"I let my parents ask all the questions. I just kind of sit there. I just focus on playing ball. They handle all the business."

Hampton said he likes the "family atmosphere" at Ole Miss, adding that he's always felt drawn to Freeze, who is wrapping up his second season in Oxford.

"Coach Freeze is a great coach," Hampton said. "I always look at the coach. Those guys have to handle their business, too. There are just good people in Oxford. There are good things happening there. It makes you want to look at it."

Despite that, there seems to be a consensus building in recruiting circles that Hampton will ultimately end up in Alabama, replacing HaHa Clinton-Dix in Nick Saban's defensive secondary.

"Everyone has their own opinion, so it is what it is on that end," Hampton said. "I'm just enjoying the recruiting process and making sure that everything I have looked at, I'm making the right decision. I'm not worried about the next four years. I'm worried about the next 40. I want to be around people who are going to take care of me in the future and have great alumni clubs who are going to take care of me in the future and stuff like that."

Hampton said he and Saban have "a great relationship. He comes to see and comes to talk to me. We Skype and stuff like that. We have a good relationship, but I also have a good relationship with Ole Miss and Arkansas."

Hampton said he has asked Saban about the stubborn rumors that the Alabama coach is interested in Texas. Earlier today, Orangebloods.com, citing high-level UT sources, reported Mack Brown is stepping down following 16 years directing the Longhorns' program.

"We talked about it," Hampton said. "What I picked from it was he's not going anywhere. That's really it. We don't talk about it too much. Coaches come and go. They've got to feed their families also. …I just kind of look at it like playing ball."

Speaking of rumors and speculation, there's been plenty that Hampton's decision could be tied to decisions made by friends/fellow prospects Jamal Adams and/or Laurence Jones. Adams is considering LSU, Florida, Ole Miss and Texas. Jones is committed to Alabama.

"Me and Jamal text daily. I call him and he'll call me. Me and 'Hootie' (Jones) talk every day to every two days," Hampton said. "He's taking his official (to Alabama) Saturday, so he may take the time to come over and watch the game with me and Ronnie (Clark) and all those guys playing. That's really it. All of us are really close. We talk and we discuss things."

Those relationships, however, won't impact his decision, Hampton said.

"Mainly it's my family," Hampton said. "I want my people to be close to me."

Hampton said he'll announce his decision at Meridian High School sometime in the coming days. First, he will have to inform a coaching staff he's grown close to that he will be playing against it and not for it.

"It's a business," Hampton said. "Those guys, they'll understand. There are other guys out there that can play safety also. I'm pretty sure they're not just recruiting me. I just have to handle it the right way, be respectful with it. My family is going to back me up with everything, but I'm going to handle everything myself mainly."

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