July 2, 2008

Hypolite makes helping kids a priority

On Saturdays, he gives offensive linemen headaches, running backs bruises and quarterbacks a hard time. But during the week, Colorado defensive tackle George Hypolite transforms from tormentor to mentor and gives of himself.

The big man who excels in a violent sport reaches out to small children impacted by violence. As a volunteer at a Boulder-area safe house for battered women and children, he interacts with children in need of a positive male role model.

"Anything I can do with kids always tugs at my heart the most," said Hypolite, a 6-foot-1, 285-pound senior from Los Angeles. "When you read to children and give them an hour or a couple of hours out of your day, you can see the effect you have. Growing up, you need someone to show you what you can be and that you can be more than you can imagine. I'm a product of that."

An All-Big 12 tackle who led the Buffaloes with six sacks last season, Hypolite is the kind of student-athlete we wish all players could be. Heck, he's the kind of man most of us wish we were. He's a beast on the field and a blessing off it.

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins encourages everyone on the Colorado roster to perform at least four hours of community service each year. Hypolite has spent more than 300 hours in previous summers helping to prepare meals for AIDS patients in Los Angeles.

"We try to emphasize balance of life and that good things happen to good people," Hawkins said. "He's a great student, a great player and a great person. He understands his role and what he can do for other people. He'll volunteer for anything.

"Anytime he has a chance to mentor kids and help people, he's all for it."

That's because Hypolite recognizes a child's need for male influence. He grew up without a father, but said he always had teachers, coaches and extended family members as well as a strong mother to provide guidance. Now, he wants to offer guidance in return.

He visits students from kindergarten to middle school and reads to them. More important, he listens to them.

"It's less about the book and more of actually interacting with the kids," Hypolite said. "They have a lot of questions and things they want to know about it. They get mesmerized and happy when somebody takes time out for them.

"I had a second-grade girl ask me if I knew (former Colorado All-America linebacker) Jordon Dizon. She said he was dreamy. I didn't know what to say to that."

Unfortunately, not all the stories are humorous.

When working at the shelter, Hypolite hears heart-breaking stories of abuse, the kind that might provoke a man of his size to hunt down a perpetrator and even the score. But Hypolite refrains. Those families have been subjected to enough violence. He aims to prevent violence, not add to it.

"Whenever someone volunteers at a battered women's shelter, you hear things but you don't get into it out of respect," he said. "You want to stay away from that. I talk to kids about their favorite sports teams or what they like to read. You never know what is happening in a child's life.

"In general, this is my way of trying to prevent violence and keep things from happening. By me talking to kids, I can show a positive example of masculinity, what manhood is and how you're supposed to treat women. With my example, maybe I can change perspectives about the way things happen."

That's an ambitious goal, but that's the only kind he has. Hypolite said his mother always told him to dream bigger than anyone would think is practical. That's why he isn't shy about acknowledging his goal for his senior season is to win the national title, which seems unrealistically ambitious for a young team coming off a 6-7 finish in 2007.

Perhaps the Buffaloes should aim a little lower. Contending in the Big 12 North, posting a winning record, prevailing in a bowl game those would appear more reasonable and attainable goals. But as offensive linemen around the Big 12 already know, Hypolite isn't easily deterred.

" 'Coach Hawk' says to expect a national championship just like everybody else. Why shoot for anything else?" Hypolite said. "If we win all our football games, we'll definitely be in the national championship game.

"Anyone can say they can win a national championship, but the realistic aspect is how you plan for it and what steps we take to put ourselves in that direction. National championships are won Monday through Thursday in how you prepare and, as a team, how you buy into the way coaches are teaching you. That's how football games are won, by genuinely committing to the process."

And whether it's championships or children, Hypolite obviously has no problem making a commitment.

TRIVIA QUESTION

Surprisingly, Alabama hasn't had a Heisman Trophy recipient. Name the Alabama player to finish highest in the Heisman voting. (Answer at the end of the column.)

OLD SCHOOL

Name the college that these Super Bowl MVPs attended. (Answers at the end of the column.)

1. Chuck Howley (Super Bowl V)

2. Jake Scott (Super Bowl VII)

3. John Riggins (Super Bowl XVII)

4. Richard Dent (Super Bowl XX)

5. Phil Simms (Super Bowl XI)

6. Ottis Anderson (Super Bowl XXV)

7. Mark Rypien (Super Bowl XXVI)

8. Larry Brown (Super Bowl XXX)

9. Dexter Jackson (Super Bowl XXXVII)

10. Deion Branch (Super Bowl XXXIX)

QUICK HITTERS

Oklahoma State wide receiver Artrell Woods, who sustained a serious back injury while lifting weights last year, has been cleared to return to football. Woods was temporarily paralyzed and doctors weren't sure if he would walk again after he was injured in July 2007.

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks escaped injury in a boating accident earlier this week. A boat in which Brooks was a passenger hit a log and capsized on the McKenzie River near Springfield, Ore. Brooks formerly coached at Oregon and still has a home in the Eugene area.

Sophomore Sean Sheller, a projected starting offensive tackle at UCLA, suffered a freak knee injury last weekend and will miss the season. Sheller tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee while driving an ATV.

Washington coach Tyrone Willingham announced that junior tailback J.R. Hasty and senior cornerback Jordan Murchison wouldn't have their scholarships renewed. Hasty, a former four-star recruit who never lived up to his prep billing, had briefly quit the team last season because of limited playing time. Murchison was suspended five games last season after it was learned he was wanted on assault charges and had been arrested for domestic violence.

Duke defensive end Justin Wilkerson has left the program and plans to transfer. He did not play last season.

Tennessee true freshman wide receiver Rodriguez Wilks has arthroscopic surgery on his left knee earlier this week. He was injured while working out in Knoxville, but is expected to be available when the Volunteers open the season against UCLA on Sept. 1. Former Texas players Robert Joseph and Andre Jones pleaded guilty to felony robbery charges. Each faces up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, although probation is possible. Sentencing is scheduled for July 14. Both were suspended from the team last season.

OLD SCHOOL ANSWERS

1. Howley, West Virginia

2. Scott, Georgia

3. Riggins, Kansas

4. Dent, Tennessee State

5. Simms, Morehead State

6. Anderson, Miami

7. Rypien, Washington State

8. Brown, TCU

9. Jackson, Florida State

10. Branch, Louisville

TRIVIA ANSWER

Alabama's David Palmer finished third in the 1993 Heisman voting. Florida State's Charlie Ward won it that year, with Tennessee's Heath Shuler second.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.




 

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