Hawkins impressed with Venables

CLEMSON - If this coaching thing doesn't work out for Brent Venables, there's always a future in education. In fact, Corico Hawkins would probably be among the first ready to give a recommendation if Venables took his act to the classroom on a full-time basis.

Hawkins, who's recorded 188 tackles in 39 games during his Clemson career, gave Clemson's first-year defensive coordinator a ringing endorsement.

"Coach Venables is a very intense coach on the field. In the meeting room, he's just like a teacher. He's just like the best teacher you've had in high school, elementary school, what have you," Hawkins said. "He teaches the system. He teaches it in and out. He finds different ways to make it clear to you. He just goes to the max.

"He takes it to the max by teaching you what you're supposed to do and how you're supposed to do it. He's just a flat out teacher. I can't say enough about him, the way he is in the meeting room, as far as the teaching standpoint."

A two-year starter at middle linebacker under Kevin Steele, Hawkins explained a few of the differences in Venables' scheme.

"There's not a lot of stuff you do pre-snap. It's either left or right…those are the only calls you make," Hawkins said. "We had a lot of stuff to do pre-snap in coach Steele's, because it was an NFL-style defense.

"That's, probably, the biggest difference."

He added, "It frees you up a lot, from a thinking standpoint. It allows you to pin your ears back and just go. This is my key. This is my read. This is where I line."

The new system is a little easier to understand, too.

"In this defense, I learned this: your coverage takes you to your run responsibility. Wherever you line up at, that's basically who you cover and that's your gap," Hawkins said.

Under Venables, Hawkins is working at WILL linebacker. He played the MIKE position under Steele.

"If you want to look at the name of the position, it's different," Hawkins said. "Stephone [Anthony] is the MIKE. I'm the WILL, but both of them are the same. You drop into coverage. You cover the A-gap or the B-gap. It's the same thing…for the most part, it's the same position."

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