Hampton Fay is Michigan State football’s newest QB recruit. Here’s what to know about him
Hampton Fay remembers pressing his face to the fence and using his hands like claws to hold on for dear life. Nothing throughout his childhood was going to separate him from watching Aledo High School football on autumn Friday nights.
Growing up in Texas, high school football serves as the measurement of success. Starting on the varsity team equates to becoming royalty; youth players like Fay yearn to join them.
“A lot of kids want to play in college and the NFL,” he said. “Growing up, I wanted to be on that field, playing high school football and starting. That was the big dream. Once you get up there, it’s surreal.”
Despite a few setbacks, Fay became a starting quarterback — though not at Aledo — and is preparing to embark on a journey that will take him more than 1,200 miles from his hometown.
“I just want to win, that’s why I play football,” Fay said. “Winning is the one thing I want to be remembered for, just bringing that to East Lansing.”
The All Saints Episcopal three-star prospect announced his commitment April 25 to join Michigan State football's Class of 2021, the first under coach Mel Tucker.
Tucker, who has recruited in Texas since 2015, when he was the defensive backs coach at Alabama, hand-picked Fay as the future of his program.
The past eight All Saints starting quarterbacks have gone on to play at colleges including Texas, UCLA and TCU.
All Saints coach Aaron Beck knew Fay would be next on the list. But Beck, in his 34th year as a coach, wouldn’t be boasting about him had Fay not knocked on his door last spring in search of a new school.
“We didn’t have a guy that was quite ready,” Beck said. “It was good timing. I talked to his mom and dad for a couple of months before, so the family did their due diligence. They made a decision that I think worked out well for Hampton.”
Change of plans
Fay had dreamed of playing at Aledo, andquarterbacking was in his blood. His father, Ben, played at Navy in the 1990s, and his grandfather, Ted, took the field for TCU in the late 1960s.
Too bad there wasn’t a quarterback opening for Fay at Aledo. He ended up as a wide receiver in his freshman and sophomore seasons, and in 2018, when Aledo won the state championship, he had 402 receiving yards and four TDs and earned all-district honors.
But he couldn’t wait any longer to play quarterback, so he went to All Saints, a private prep school that could take him to the next level.
Fay led All Saints to a 3-0 start in 2019, completing 70 percent of his passes for 845 yards and 10 touchdowns, with one interception, and had two rushing TDs.
All three wins came against teams that later made the playoffs. That included a 24-17 victory against Parish Episcopal, where Fay suffered a partially torn labrum while scoring the winning touchdown.
“We’re on the goal line, and the play is a designed quarterback run up the middle,” Fay said. “I didn’t care who it was in front of me, I was going to score. With that came a cost.”
All Saints finished 5-5, crumbling after Fay’s injury; Parish went 12-1 and won the state championship.
“If you read the tea leaves and Hamp stays healthy, last year could’ve been a pretty magical season,” Beck said. “Nevertheless, you play the hand of cards you’re dealt. This young man has played those very, very well.”
'CEO of the team'
Fay has been cleared to resume all football activities, but he’s stuck waiting because of to the coronavirus pandemic. He has worked out with his quarterback trainer, Cole Casey, but is eager to get back with his All Saints teammates.
Casey called Fay a prototypical quarterback who “checks all of the boxes” with pure athleticism. If not for the pandemic, Fay would have been on the 400-meter relay team, which is impressive, considering his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame.
“There’s nothing Michigan State would want to do where he would limit their offense in terms of what they want to accomplish,” Casey said. “He can do anything they want him to do.”
Fay remembers stretching out in his bed each night, asking himself the same question: Where do I see myself playing?
“It was a good thing going through it to find the pros and cons,” he said. “I was able to create a list and rank each school while listing all of the factors that played into it. Business is something I want to go into, and I know Michigan State offers a really good business program, so that was a huge highlight for me along with the football program."
Colorado was the second school to offer Fay, so he already had a relationship with Tucker and offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. When Tucker arrived at MSU with his new coaching staff in February, Fay received an offer and took a March 6 visit.
“CEO of the team, that’s what Coach Johnson wants in his quarterback,” Fay said. “He wants to run more of a pro-style/spread, much like what Colorado ran last season. He wants a guy that knows a lot about the schemes and coverages, the knowledge part of it.”
Fay wants to silence anyone who doubts him and fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming "the guy" in high school. He wants to be remembered as a winner by the time he leaves MSU. His coach believes he’s well on his way to making his dreams a reality.
“Just with the natural, God-given ability, I think his potential is so high,” Beck said. “Not just the potential to win football games and play beyond college, but really become the face of the program.”