Mississippi State commits Tabias Hinton set to thrive after move to LB
Hattiesburg High School star Tabias Hinton’s goal when he steps onto a football field is to keep his mind quiet.
Calmness, he explained, is vital to success. And while his thoughts might present a serene image of sorts, the result once the ball is snapped is often anything but.
“When he goes, nobody’s gonna block him,” Hattiesburg head coach Tony Vance said.
That’s not an exaggeration. Hinton collected 18.5 sacks during his sophomore season and another seven last season, with fewer pass-heavy teams on the Tigers’ schedule.
Hinton, who committed to Mississippi State in late July, comes in at No. 7 on The Clarion Ledger’s 2022 football Dandy Dozen list. He’s rated by the 247Sports Composite as a three-star prospect.
At the high school level, Hinton has elite speed—Vance said he ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.55-second range. He also possesses the smarts to go with it.
“If you read the linemen, they’ll tell you where the ball’s going, and you just gotta be patient with it,” Hinton said.
The senior’s combination of ability and intellect makes him versatile, in Vance’s view. He can unleash Hinton at tight end or wide receiver on the offensive side of the ball, and stick him just about anywhere on the defensive side of things. If it came down to it, Vance thinks Hinton could play quarterback.
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For the 2022 season, he’s in for a small change. Having lined up at defensive end heading into this season, Hinton is moving back a level to outside linebacker as the Tigers transition to a 3-4 defensive system.
It’s a move he believes suits him.
“I’m quick,” he said. “I get to play in space. I get to stand up, move around and cover.
“It gives me room to move around and read.”
The position change presents Hinton with the opportunity to gain a head start, given he’s projected to play linebacker at the next level.
He’ll still be a force rushing the passer, but he’ll also be challenged to showcase his athletic talent in a more complete way.
“He’s getting comfortable,” Vance said. “As far his ability and confidence, he could go cover your No. 1 receiver, if he needed to. He’s a guy that we feel like, if we stand him up in the middle, he could go sideline to sideline. There’s not a Lot of guys that can do that in high school. He’s athletic enough.”
This fall, Hinton is set to headline what Vance believes is a Hattiesburg team with the potential to win a lot of games.
That’s where the focus lies. But, with a talent like Hinton’s, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to project.
“He’s a guy that I think makes it to the ultimate level, which is the NFL,” Vance said. “He’s a guy that will stay a long time because of his personality.”
Reach Southern Miss writer David Eckert at [email protected] or on Twitter @davideckert98.