Coach Tommy Bowden and company have been on an absolute tear on the recruiting trail and have been landing the pledge of elite athlete after elite athlete. So, what do the Tigers do? Do they become content and rest on what is at the moment a likely a Top 5 class? No…the Tigers simply dip down into the Peach State, as they do year in and year out, and snag one of the class of ‘09's better LBs.
Below are the pros and cons of the Tiger's latest verbal, Corico Hawkins.
Speed—Hawkins has the one thing that is an absolute must at the major-college level: speed. He closes with incredible quickness and control and accelerates through ball-carriers as well as anyone I have seen—especially for one who is already carrying in excess of 220 pounds. Gets into zones quickly and drives on thrown balls like a safety. Hawkins times well (consistent mid 4.5s) but he plays faster, and he has enough speed to be a situational player right now. Has the speed and disposition to be a special teams mainstay, as well.
Aggressiveness—plays the position without fear and is in attack mode on every down. A heavy hitter who brings an attitude to the defense, Hawkins sets the tone and at times can take over a game. He does tend to get caught up in "extra-curriculars" and there are times when he loses focus, but, overall, he has the demeanor necessary to play LB at a high level.
Toughness—Hawkins is a physically-tough young man. He plays just about the entire game in the box and mixes it up with a big OL and/or Fullback on just about every play. What does not change, though, is his angle of play. Hawkins is a downhill guy and he doesn't shy away from contact and start playing laterally. While some defenders will start going around blocks and begin taking the path of least resistance (which creates seams, creases and cutback lanes), he continues to play through people and appears to thrive on contact.
Size—Hawkins is by no means a small LB, but he is a bit short. This might not even be construed as a con because it affords him such good leverage, but where it might show up is in two areas. First is the area of pass coverage. Hawkins will match up most of the time with TEs, who are typically very tall. He has the strength and the speed not to be a liability, but length might be an issue. The second area of concern is with taking on much larger OL. While he certainly has the toughness to tangle with them, he could very easily get swallowed up. His quickness will be an asset but, again, he will have to play through the OL (many times) to maintain leverage and gap responsibility.
Final Analysis—Hawkins is a flat-out ball player. He brings the combination of nastiness and toughness that all good defenses have. He is a little raw in terms of technique, but there is no denying his dynamic and explosive playmaking ability. He already knows how to compete at a high level and as he learns to mesh with his new teammates, he will grow into a very productive member of the Tiger Family.
Burke Hayes is the Southeastern Regional Manager for Football Recruiting at Scout.