Razorback sophomore wide receiver and running back T.J. Hammonds was born and raised in Arkansas’ captial city of Little Rock.
“Being from there, you know, it’s something special,” said Hammonds. “Everything about it, it’s just wonderful you know. Just being around like the people that raised me and being out there, you know, it’s the natural state. Being in that environment and just being around there, it’s just wonderful. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Hammonds attended the Robinson schools on the edge of Little Rock. There he met a man that would change his life, Coach Brian Maupin.
“He was a father figure to me,” Hammonds told the Pig Trail Nation. “He’s done so much for me. He taught me a lot about life and just being a man.”
Hammonds wasn’t in need of a father figure. His father, Theron, is still heavily involved in T.J.’s life, as is his mother, Nikkita Neely.
“I’ve said multiple times, we’re like a big family,” said Maupin. “When my children were born, his mom was as excited as anybody else. So, it’s not like I’m replacing anybody. There’s no need to be replaced, but it’s just kind of an added bonus. It’s just an extra blessing from the Lord that we can all build into his life.”
From helping teach TJ to drive to helping him become more responsible, Maupin has had a profound impact on the true sophomore.
“He just means so much, man,” said Hammonds. “Like, it’s hard to explain because he’s done so much that not any other coach would do. He’s one of a kind.”
On the field, Hammonds became a star at Robinson. He was a consensus four-star recruit. His senior year, he accumulated over 2,000 total yards. And don’t think it was a fluke. Hammonds says the Senators have to play at a different level.
“We don’t get a lot of respect that we should, you know,” said Hammonds. “Just, when I played, being number 2, Dardenelle above us. I felt like we were way better than them. So, we play with a chip on our shoulder every time we come out there because we represent that Robinson on our chest.”
While Hammonds held offers from multiple power 5 schools, he said playing for Arkansas was a no-brainer.
“I’m from Little Rock,” Hammonds emphasized. “Razorback football is pretty much the only thing we have in Arkansas. You know, just growing up here and just watching the Hogs play, I was like ‘man, I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else than to play for the Hogs.’ I just wanna play for my state and give something back.”