That means the physical Hawthorne has a chance to play early and often this season. At 6-3, 208 with good speed and hands, the Homewood native was one of the South's top receiver prospects as a senior. Because of that his name has been bantered around all summer when discussing Auburn's wide receivers. He says that he just has to remain focused on his goal and not let the talk get to him.
"I just have to be humble and tell myself that I have to keep working hard no matter what the reporters say and what the TV stations say and newspapers," Hawthorne says. "I just have to keep a level head. Being with guys like Courtney Taylor and Prechae Rodriguez they are also keeping me level-headed and on an even keel."
Like many of his fellow signees, Hawthorne spent the majority of the summer on the Auburn campus taking a few classes as well as working out with future Tiger teammates. He says that experience helped him greatly as did the chance to get a head start working out with Strength and Conditioning Coach Kevin Yoxall.
"It was very big because I got in here early and got a couple of classes out of the way," Hawthorne notes. "I got a little taste of how the classes were going to be this fall and also how the summer workouts are. I just got two in one and that's going to benefit me throughout the season.
"The workouts are just so intense and so demanding," he adds. "Coach Yox is somebody that I respect already just because the work that you do, you know it's going to pay off. That's the reason why Auburn has been so successful the past few years. Also the schedule is very compact. I'm constantly having something to do."
Hawthorne catches a TD against Buckhorn in the state title game last year.
This summer also gave Hawthorne a chance to get to know his teammates on a personal level instead of just on a football level. For him that meant spending as much time with Taylor as possible. Auburn's top receiver and one of the more confident players on the team, Taylor gave Hawthorne some insights into playing the wide receiver position that the freshman said should help him make the transition to life at Auburn.
"He's just so smart and taken me under his wings," Hawthorne says. "He's showing me how to run routes and how to take advantage of certain DBs. Like I have said before, he's a mentor and somebody I really respect. He also might be a first-rounder next year. He's very cool, very down to earth. That's what I love about him."
While Hawthorne had been the talk of the new class of receivers, Taylor has been getting a lot of love from the media despite a tough 2005 season that saw him struggle with a high ankle sprain for much of the year. Hawthorne says if this summer is any indication Taylor will be back to form in 2006.
"He's one of the only experience receivers that we have," Hawthorne says. "I think he's going to respond really well. Just working with him and training with him all summer you can tell that what he does all summer is going to pay off for him during the season. He attended all the workouts and set a good example being a leader off the field also. You can just tell by his swagger that he's about business."
Making plays is something a receiver has to do if he wants to survive in the SEC and that has been Hawthorne's forte up to this point. That continued this summer as he showed that ability against Auburn's current defensive backs in one-on-one situations. He says that his summer of work has him confident he'll be able to come in and help the team right away in its chase for a SEC Championship.
"It did because I made some plays and it boosted my confidence level because it let me know I can come out here and compete with these guys," Hawthorne says. "I know two-a-days hasn't started yet but just going into that period has let me know that with all the talent I've been blessed with, I think I can go out here and playing on the same playing field with these guys. It was a boost to my confidence."