Baylor’s Hampton brothers have been exceptional on and off the field

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Joshua and Caleb Hampton before a practice at Baylor School on Monday, November 28, 2022.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." -- Proverbs 22:6

It was a moment still frozen in memory and not because the temperature dipped into the mid-20s on that frigid Nashville night.

Just before Baylor's TSSAA football semifinal game at Brentwood Academy two weeks ago, as the teams jogged onto the field for kickoff, Red Raiders senior running back Caleb Hampton stepped up next to me along the sideline and said, "Mr. Hargis, thank you for being here to cover us."

What could merely seem like a small gesture was easily recognized as something much more significant. For a young man to set aside the whirling emotion just before the biggest game of his team's season -- and their career to that point -- to express gratitude to someone else was a glimpse into that kid's character.

Hampton, a finalist for the Division II-AAA Mr. Football award, would go on to total 85 yards in the game and his younger brother, junior defensive back Joshua, played an equally important role in helping Baylor advance to the state championship game for the first time in 11 years.

While Caleb helped the offense put together eight scoring drives, Joshua batted away a pass in the end zone on BA's final drive and, two plays later, teamed up with Dylan Crawford on a dramatic tackle at the goal line to help preserve the win.

The Hampton brothers -- born 14 months apart but raised like twins -- began their football career as 8 and 9 year old teammates, playing for the Harrison Pounders. After nearly a decade of being teammates, they will step on the field together for the final time Thursday night when second-ranked Baylor faces top-ranked Montgomery Bell Academy for the state championship at Finley Stadium.

"Caleb taking that moment to say what he did before the game, really that's just who he and his brother are as human beings," Baylor first-year head coach Erik Kimrey said. "It's very genuine and all of that comes from their family. You want to call their parents and ask for parental advice because they have done a magnificent job in raising outstanding young men."

  photo  Contributed photo / Joshua (left) and Caleb Hampton have been teammates since they were 8 and 9 year olds. Thursday the brothers will step on the field one last time as Baylor plays for the Division II-AAA state title.

For all the recognition each has gotten for their on-field abilities, the brothers have earned just as much respect and praise for the way they conduct themselves in other aspects of their young lives -- from Baylor coaches and faculty to other parents and adults who have interacted with them.

"My son played baseball with Caleb when they were 12 years old and my husband coached," said Barbara Lamb, whose son Brody is now a two-sport athlete at Silverdale Baptist. "Caleb would shake hands with every coach at the end of every practice and tell them thank you. He's an exceptional young man."

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Memphis University School (95) Lewis Butler defends as Baylor (34) Caleb Hampton carries the ball at the Baylor School on Friday, November 11, 2022. MUS played at Baylor in a Division II-AAA second round football playoff game.

Former Red Bank High and University of Tennessee star running back Gerald Riggs, who began working with the brothers as their trainer at the outset of their football playing careers, had a similar reaction when asked about them.

"From the first day they walked through my door the first thing I noticed was how mannerly they were and how close they were as a family," Riggs said. "It's easy for kids with their talent level, especially these days, to get full of themselves. But those two are very humble and care more about giving back and being good to others than gaining praise.

"I'm just honored to have gotten to know them because as good as they are as athletes, they're even better people."


As the father of four boys and a minister who has worked with young people for nearly two decades, Patrick Hampton came to believe there is one common factor in determining which path teenage boys choose.

"I have mentored more than 500 young men and that experience helped me understand what my sons needed," said Patrick, who was raised with three brothers and an adopted sister. "I heard so many of those young men I mentored who had chosen the wrong path say, 'If my dad had been around more' or, 'I just wish my dad had been at my games or shown me he was there for me.'

"It was heartbreaking but I knew that there were too many failed fathers in our community and I wasn't going to be one of them. Every job I've taken, I don't worry about the salary, I base it on whether I can be there to either take my kids to school or be there when they get home.

"I had the example of my parents, and the Bible also teaches us to be an influence in our children's lives. My wife (Sherinda) and I have made that our priority. I have been in all of my boys' lives (the couple also have 9-year-old Israel and 8-year-old Noah) from the time they wake up in the morning until they go to bed at night and I believe that has paid dividends."

Although both older sons began playing baseball when they were 4, Patrick and Sherinda didn't relent to their sons' continual begging for permission to play football until they were older.

"They surprised us one Christmas with helmets and pads," said Josh, who added that he and Caleb spent that entire afternoon trying out their new equipment by chasing and tackling each other in the front yard.

"We've never really competed against each other," Josh said. "It's been more of competing together and being each other's biggest supporter.

"This week feels sort of unreal because we've played together for so long and now this is the last time we'll get to do that."

Added Caleb, "I look at it as a blessing. For our last game in high school to be the state championship, we couldn't ask for more than that."


Although Baylor's athletic program has produced a state record 244 team or individual state champions in its history, the school's only football title came in 1973. The Red Raiders have finished runner-up four other times, including in 2010 and 2011.

If this year's team is to add to the gold hardware in the school's trophy case, the Hampton brothers will likely play key roles on each side of the ball.

Caleb -- who was once committed to play baseball at South Carolina but is now considering the possibility of playing both sports at either Virginia Tech or Charlotte, as well as offers from other college programs to play one sport -- has rushed for 1,575 yards and 25 touchdowns in helping Baylor average scoring 40 points per game.

Meanwhile Josh is a lock-down defensive back whose length (6-foot-2) and tenacity make it difficult for opponents to find much success when throwing in his direction.

"Because he was older and a little bigger, Caleb always got the best of Josh when they were kids," Patrick said. "But that's also what made Josh such a strong competitor. He will go against anybody now because he gained confidence knowing that if he could tackle his brother he can tackle anybody in the state.

  photo  Staff photo by Olivia Ross / McCallie's Enrique Jaimes Leclair (1) looks for the pass, Baylor's Josh Hampton (8) follows close behind. Baylor took on McCallie at home on Friday, September 30, 2022.

"This is a rare experience to get to play for a championship in your home town. I told them both this is how you become a Chattanooga legend. Our whole family is very close-knit. My wife and I, and all of the grandparents, have spent a lot of time on ballfields around town supporting the boys, so this will be a very emotional game for all of us.

"We know how much Chattanooga has embraced our boys through the years, so for them to get to go out there together and play for their school and their city, that's just an experience that means a lot to them and our whole family."

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis