January 28, 2010 9:49:00 AM
HAMILTON -- Latedrick Troupe has earned the reputation for being a playmaker.
Most of the highlights the Hamilton High School senior has delivered have come on offense or on special teams.
Troupe hopes to change that in the fall and make some noise on defense.
The versatile running back/linebacker said Wednesday that he plans to continue his football career at Itawamba Community College. The 5-foot-8, 195-pounder isn''t sure when he will sign with ICC. National Signing Day is Wednesday.
After spending four years on the varsity team at Hamilton High, Troupe said he already has changed his focus to being a contributor on defense.
"Whatever position they want me in doesn''t matter. I really want to play," said Troupe, who split time at running back and linebacker this season. I am willing to do whatever they need me to do to help the team."
Troupe said he hasn''t talked to the ICC coaches about where he could play, but he envisions it being at outside linebacker because that is where he played in high school.
Troupe said he chose ICC because it was close to home and he knows a lot of people who go to school there, including former Hamilton High football player Mason Welch, who is a long snapper for the Indians.
Troupe also credited former Hamilton High and ICC standout Gabe Hollivay for being an inspiration to him. He said he was in the eighth grade when Hollivay was a senior in high school. He said he talked with Hollivay, who was a senior this season on the University of North Texas football team, a couple of weeks ago at a men''s basketball game on ICC''s Fulton campus. He made his verbal commitment the same night.
Hamilton High coach Ray Weeks said Troupe was a steady player for the Lions throughout his career. He said Troupe started since he was a sophomore and has been a team leader ever since.
"He started out as more of an offensive type of guy running the ball and catching it," Weeks said. "He always was a threat of going the distance. Over the past year or so he developed into a good defensive player at linebacker. We moved him around and sometimes he would be a run stopper and then play in coverage. He is very versatile in that area."
Weeks feels Troupe''s work ethic will allow him to make the transition to college football. He said Troupe isn''t a selfish player and has made strides in the weight room to get stronger.
"At the next level the game is going to be a lot faster and he is going to have to adjust to that, but I think he has the ability to do that," Weeks said. " I think he will continue to make strides there."
ICC is coming off a 2-7 season. Coach Jeff Terrill resigned shortly after the end of the year and was replaced by Jon Williams, who spent the previous three season as the team''s offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator/run game coordinator.
Troupe said he hasn''t talked with Williams but he is confident he will be able to contribute on eight side of the ball. Just in case, though, he already has adopted a defensive mind-set.
"The sky is the limit," Troupe said. "(This opportunity) means a lot to me. There''s still a lot of work to do to get better because there always is room to get better. I am really looking forward to it. I can''t wait, even if it is defense. I just want to play."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.