Diamond in the rough: Champ Hampton shines in baseball and football

Diamond in the rough: Champ Hampton shines in baseball and football

Freshman outfielder Caleb ‘Champ’ Hampton possesses rare power. With a small stride in his front leg and a little forward momentum, the five-foot-ten slugger generates enough torque to hammer a baseball into the seats at Sunken Diamond.

“The other day, he hit about a 450-foot home run during an intrasquad game,” said baseball head coach David Esquer. 

Hampton, who was ranked the eighth overall in Tennessee in the 2023 recruiting class, posted an impressive .396/.476/.780 slash line during his junior year. He continued his strong play during his senior year, slashing .358/.469/.701.

In addition to his hitting, Hampton is known for his quickness. In his junior year, he went for extra bases in 27 of 36 hits and stole 11 bases.

“He’s an explosive player,” Esquer said. “He’s got a rare combination of speed and power.”

But “Champ,” as his friends call him, has athletic aspirations beyond the baseball diamond. Hampton was also a standout running back in high school, rushing for nearly 1900 yards and 27 touchdowns his senior season.

With that production, Stanford offered Champ an opportunity to play both football and baseball, a rare possibility as athletes increasingly specializing at a younger age.

“I’m just so used to it that it’s natural,” Hampton said. “I feel like I’m going to be playing both as long as I can and winning a championship in both.”

After spending fall in the thick of football season, Champ is looking to make his mark on the baseball diamond. Last season, the baseball team lost nine players to the MLB Draft and Hampton hopes to contribute to a team that needs to replace several star sluggers.

“I expect him to keep getting better and show off that multidimensional athletic ability,” Esquer said. “He’s just starting to get comfortable, and I think he will show great improvement in a hurry.”

Although Hampton is a mild-mannered individual, with his demeanor reflecting the values of his small southern hometown: Ooltewah, Tenn., the freshman outfielder has already emerged as a leader on the baseball team. 

“[Champ] brought some of that football fire to the team and helped get the guys riled up,” said fellow freshman and pitcher Ben Reimers.

A supportive and vocal leader, Reimers described Hampton as a great teammate. “It’s cool to see him step into that role as a freshman.”

In his first-at-bat against Cal State Fullerton, Hampton barrelled a ball past a diving second baseman to get his first collegiate hit. Unlike other players who may have shown more visible excitement, Champ merely let out a small grin. 

But perhaps that’s because Hampton is grounded by something much greater than self-achievement.

Family is “definitely what fuels me,” Hampton said. “Every day after school I’d go to my grandparents’ to eat dinner. Seeing the smiles on their faces makes me happy and I want to make them proud.”

Despite being far from home, Champ holds Tennessee close to his heart and wants to give back to Ooltewah by creating his own foundation.

“A lot of my friends lost the love of playing baseball and football because their families couldn’t afford to pay for it,” Hampton said. “I want to bridge that gap and give children the opportunity to pursue their dreams for the sport they love.”

With a relentless drive for success in both football and baseball, Hampton is just scratching the surface of his full potential, leaving Cardinal fans excited for accomplishments to come.

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