Each time Derby principal Tim Hamblin sees senior offensive lineman Trevor Hudson walking through the crowded halls, they lock eyes and the staredown commences. Even when Hudson runs out of the tunnel onto the football field before games, he’ll find Hamblin and stare at him through his facemask.
“He does a smirk out of the corner of his eye,” Hamblin said with a laugh. “He’s just a very nice young man.”
Two years ago, Hamblin played an integral part in Hudson’s turnaround that likely will result in him playing college football.
As a sophomore, Hudson (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) chose not to play football, citing a knee injury suffered his freshman season. He also struggled academically, barely passing math and English.
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He also was suspended for five days because, Hudson said, he argued with a teacher. That’s when Hamblin, principal to nearly 2,000 students in Kansas’ ninth-largest high school, established his connection with Hudson.
Hamblin peered beyond Hudson’s intimidating size and saw typical teenage boy behavior.
“I was present to overhear the situation and this particular situation screamed to me that that’s not what this kid wanted to do, but because he was big, he felt he had to,” Hamblin said. “… I set him down and told him I thought he had a tremendous amount of potential. I wasn’t talking athletics.”
From that point, Hamblin checked on Hudson frequently.
“He really talked to me,” Hudson said. “We talked about what had happened and he motivated me to do better the next semester.… He’s a very nice man. He’s motivating me every morning.”
Hudson was moved into daily math with Tracy Reedy, a teacher he credits for his improvement.
“I started zooming through it. It started clicking,” he said. “… Towards the end of my sophomore year, I got moved into a different (English) teacher’s classroom and we were going through Shakespeare. She really made it fun.”
When he went home, he chose schoolwork over video games.
“The teachers talk about how much he has matured throughout the years, and he’s a good kid and a good student,” said Hudson’s mom, Nancy Stratford. “He’s not shutting down anymore. He realizes college depends on his grades.”
A quiet but giddy laugh slipped out of Hudson as he discussed his grades, which he said are As and Bs.
“I want to be remembered as a student who did work, who’s a good athlete and everyone liked him,” Hudson said.
While Hudson’s grades improved, Derby coach Brandon Clark recruited him to try football again. He’d watch Hudson shooting baskets in the gym and couldn’t miss the athleticism and size.
“Almost every time I was in the hallway, he’d say something about me playing football,” Hudson said.
Hudson returned to football as a junior, but he used his daily time in the weight room before school to socialize with his friends.
Not anymore. This past summer he intensified his weight training workouts and he has finally reached the potential Clark had seen.
Hudson more than doubled his bench press to 230 pounds and nearly doubled his squats to 425.
“He was one of those kids that wasn’t that strong,” Clark said. “All the other kids were getting a little stronger than him. We finally got him to come out and he finally got bought into our weight room. He started seeing some progression in that.
“And with his work ethic and buying in, he’s now one of the strongest in the weight room.… He went from being a little lazy to letting football pay for college.”
Hudson, who ran the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds, initially lost weight, but has gained it back. He saw his body change, too.
“My calves started to get more defined, and my arms started to get more defined. On the field, I get a little lower and I’m more aggressive,” Hudson said. “… Just this past week against West, we were watching film and in the first quarter, I was a little shaky. I got lower in the second quarter and I was blowing my guy off the line a lot.”
Hudson naturally has good hips, which is important for linemen, who quickly change direction and explode off the line of scrimmage on the snap.
He has improved beyond his natural ability and is receiving some major-college interest.
“He’s an athlete,” Clark said. “He has great hips. He was good when he wasn’t as strong as he is now, and now that he’s stronger and has better hips, he has gotten to the point where football is going to pay for his college.”