By Christine Troyke, Gwinnett Daily Post
Tim Hardy hears how great Myles Hinton is all the time.
The senior is one of the best offensive tackles in the country and committed to Stanford after being courted by college football's elite.
There's much to love about the 6-foot-7, 320-pound lineman with quick feet and an NFL pedigree.
But, at least around Greater Atlanta Christian's campus, it's art teachers so often singing his praises to Hardy.
“This guy is an accomplished artist," Hardy said. "Last year during MLK Day, he had works at the museum of civil rights. The guy is legit.
"Our best art teacher here told me he may be the best art student we've ever had. This isn't a kid who draws on the side.”
Five-star football players with interests outside the game are often dubbed Renaissance men. With Hinton, it's more than hyperbole. It's not just being an artist. His face lights up if you mention fishing. He played saxophone, but switched to electric piano because he likes the feel of music more than being forced to read the notes off a piece of paper. He has a deep interest in biology, which shows in his preference for drawing fish and wildlife. He's also been part of the Homecoming court three years running.
“What an outstanding representative, what a true student-athlete is and should be,” Hardy said. “He has a breadth of interests and pursues them with passion and purpose. He really invests broadly and deeply, but doesn't see them as conflict. They augment each other.
“He's an awesome representative of himself and his family, but also this school and what we're trying to do to build the whole student.”
Having a life outside football was a boon over the last year. Hinton was sidelined all of last season after needing shoulder surgery.
“I was pulling and, bad footwork, I got too ahead of the guy, tried to cut back on him,” Hinton said. “Shoulder point to shoulder point, knocked it out of the socket. It was a bad dislocation. The front of my humerus had a bone bruise on it from going out the back. It was all the way out.
“I got the MRI and my labrum was gone in the back. It was all frayed and bloody. I couldn't even really walk without it clicking or popping. It hurt non-stop. It was just bad.”
He wasn't allowed to participate in full-contact hitting until July 31. It's been a long road for the introspective teenager.
“It's been tough, but I've just tried to chug through it and look at the bright side of everything,” said Hinton, whose older brother, Christopher, is a freshman defensive end at Michigan.
The nature of his injury precluded a lot of the usual offseason training. Lifting weights, other than isolating for the legs was out. So was running with the jarring it caused to the healing shoulder.
“My arm is heavier than most people's arms,” he said with a chuckle. “Everything was drawn out. I've been trying to do full-speed feet, but keep my arm out of it. That's all I can really do.”
Hinton was exuberant when he told offensive line coach Kendall Knight about the doctor's all-clear less than a month ago.
“He was really excited,” Knight said. “Physically he's a little behind as far as some strength, but he's getting there. He really wants to do it.”
Hinton hated football, his words, in seventh grade. Following the sport of his father Chris, who played 13 NFL seasons and made seven Pro Bowls, wasn't a certainty.
“Every day at practice, I dreaded it,” he said. “I wanted to quit. But I decided to give it one more year just to see how it feels. High school, I thought I would probably do something different.
“In eighth grade, I don't know, something clicked. I started playing and really enjoying what I was doing. Then I started getting noticed by the coaches and I was realizing I was not a bad player. That really helped my confidence in football and I decided to stick with it.”
Knight saw him as a freshman with size, obviously, and raw talent. As Hinton evolved into one of the nation's best offensive tackles, so did Knight's understanding of how to best coach him.
“Myles is his own man,” Knight said. “He is an offensive-minded kid based on his level of aggression and even playing style. He's a legitimate offensive tackle. Great feet. Great hands. Really smart. Really physical.
“He has a love for the game. A lot of people don't think he does, but he does. It's not right on the surface.”
This season, Knight has noticed Hinton talking a lot more in practice.
“Suddenly he's helping the younger players,” Knight said. “He's teaching them, he's coaching them up, he's being the man.
“He's not the kind of kid who has this extraordinary talent and sees himself as above the guys. He's right there with them. He wants to be one of the guys even though he's an elite talent.”
Hinton's technique has grown as well.
“Even though he was injured most of last year, he's just really become more of a technician and very coachable,” Knight said. “He sees the areas in his game where he needs to grow.
“When you coach him, you have to coach through his intellect. He likes information. He likes to be held accountable to the details and what his job is and how he can get better. He self-corrects. It's been a joy as far as that's concerned.”
The cerebral approach to the game, as well as the diversity of his interests, makes Stanford a perfect fit. The weather and the more laid-back West Coast vibe didn't hurt, either.
“For me, football is part of my life and not all I focus on,” Hinton said. “I know a lot of kids who are football 24/7. It's all they want to do.
“At Stanford, I'm able to take classes I wouldn't be able to take at other schools. And I can throw discus in track next spring if I want to. That's also a plus.”
Hinton committed to the Cardinal on his birthday, Jan. 9, and, despite rumors that circulate on the internet, is emphatic about his choice.
He has his coach's enthusiastic thumbs-up as well.
“It's awesome for a couple of reasons,” Hardy said. “For him, the act of him making that choice was significant. Myles has always been his own guy. That act of, truly, 'I'm going to craft my path' is great. And specifically Stanford, it's a great fit. Stanford is a spot for well-rounded, multi-dimensional people.
“He's made that decision and now he's dialed in here.”
Published on Gwinnett Daily Post.