Nate Hampton arrived at a realization about a month ago. The quarterback on the Davie County football team found what he felt was an ideal fit for a college program — a similar offense and playing in a stadium roughly two and a half hours away from his home in Advance.
Hampton, who broke several school records in just his second season as the War Eagles' starter, announced his verbal commitment to Liberty on Sunday afternoon via a Twitter post. The 6-foot-6 and 230-pound rising senior, rated a 3-star prospect per 247Sports, racked up more than 20 Division I scholarship offers — the Flames, located in Lynchburg, Va., being one his top three programs along with Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
According to Hampton — whose recruitment the past few months was reduced to phone calls, texts, Twitter messages, FaceTime video streams and virtual tours because of the coronavirus outbreak — he decided on Liberty in May. And, about a week ago, he committed during a conversation that included head coach Hugh Freeze, the Flames' offensive staff and defensive line coach Josh Aldridge.
"Hugh Freeze and (quarterbacks coach Kent Austin), I mean, they know what they're doing," said Hampton, who plans to early enroll at Liberty in January 2021. "And their whole (run-pass option) game and drop-back game, I think it's really similar to a lot of the stuff I do in high school. And I feel like, once I get to college, it'll be second nature for me."
Hampton, who was named to the Journal's All-Northwest football team in December, finished his junior season leading Davie County to a second-round appearance in the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs. The younger brother of Peyton Hampton, currently a linebacker at Army, passed for a school-record 3,295 yards and 22 touchdowns. Hampton rushed for another 420 yards, scoring nine times, as well.
He also set milestones for single-game completions with 31 — twice, against Glenn and Reagan — including a season-record 263 of 427 passes completed. That followed his first season in 2018 behind a varsity offensive line in which the War Eagles finished at 3-9 — the program's worst record since 1991.
According to Hampton, part of the appeal to pick Liberty was a chance to play early. The Flames, which transitioned into an FBS program and won the Cure Bowl against Georgia Southern during their first year of eligibility last season, in July 2019 picked up former Auburn quarterback Malik Willis upon his entry to the NCAA's transfer portal.
"I have a great opportunity to play as a sophomore," Hampton said. "And I think that's another huge thing because I want to go somewhere where I'm going to play."