Signee analysis: Corico Hawkins

Looking to beef up the middle of the defense, Clemson landed an early commit from one of the top linebackers in Georgia and managed to retain his services through a coaching change.

LB Corico Hawkins (5-11, 225) Profile

The Tiger staff made linebacker a priority for the 2009 recruiting cycle and feels that they managed to beef up the corps a good bit. Hawkins was a crucial get early in the process that allowed the staff the luxury of trimming their board and being more selective knowing that they had a solid player already on board. One of the top performers in the Peach State, Corico had a laundry list of offers that was a who's who in the southeast, but ultimately cast his lot with the Orange and Purple.

Corico is a stout, run-stopping force that projects to play inside at the linebacker position. Although he is a little shorter than a prototypical Mike, he possesses a very compact, solid build. This thickness allows him to excel at stoning ball carriers at the point of attack and is rarely forced backwards on a tackle. His dense frame immediately passes the eyeball test and his musculature looks college ready. This appearance is backed up by very impressive weight room numbers, especially for a high school athlete, having posted a 400+ pound bench press.

Hawkins is a down hill player that seeks out the ball carrier and takes the most direct line possible to deliver the blow. He shows a tremendous initial burst and quickness for a player carrying upwards of 225 lbs, often beating blockers to the point of attack and making the play. In addition, Corico doesn't shy away from blockers, but prefers to run through them, either shoving them out of the way or driving them into the backfield and disrupting the play. Constantly in attack mode, he is quick to explode out of his stance and race up to the line of scrimmage allowing him to stop plays for minimal gain or even for losses. He is equally quick to drive on a receiver and lower the boom as the ball arrives.

While his zeal for stuffing the run enables him to make many plays, it can likewise take him completely out of them. At times, he takes such a direct angle to the back that he will run himself out of a play on a cutback or on misdirection plays. Hawkins lacks the necessary agility to stop and start or cut quickly and thus his recovery is less than desirable. Against a heavy misdirection offense or quicker scat-backs, Corico will often appear flatfooted and become much less sure in his aggression.

Don't mistake his lack of pure agility to mean that Hawkins is slow; he isn't. His phenomenal initial step and very good straight line speed allow him to pursue plays from sideline to sideline. His hand-timed speed is quite good for a guy that is a muscular 225 pounds and he plays even faster. While he is instinctive and has a great nose for the football, he needs to learn discipline and maintain his lane assignments rather than trying to stuff every play.

As previously mentioned, his height is a major concern. Given his other abilities, if Hawkins was a mere 2-3 inches taller, he would have ranked as one of the top backers in the entire nation. Many will be quick to point out that height is overrated and doesn't always indicate the quality of a player (especially in light of Clemson's own Termite). However, don't be too quick to rationalize this deficiency as it can be a big hindrance, especially at middle linebacker.

Corico will get lost in the shuffle and in a zone blocking scheme or one with lots of pulling and misdirection; it will be very tough for him to be able to see beyond the initial screen of motion to adequately diagnose the play. Furthermore, his lack of height, and thus shorter arms, will hamper him twofold: 1) he will have greater difficulty keeping blockers off of his body and ultimately shedding them and 2) it limits his range on making tackles and makes it harder for him to wrap up. Finally, having him match up against a TE going across the middle will put him at a decided length disadvantage.

There is a common theme among the linebacker prospects that Clemson brought in this past cycle: they are all natural football players. Hawkins always seems to be around the ball and can quickly rack up a huge number of tackles. He has a good love for the game and is very dedicated. Plays with great leverage (an area where his lack of ideal size is actually a boon) and enjoys punishing opposing players. A great effort guy who brings a hard-nosed attitude and plays with a chip on his shoulder every time he straps on the pads.

My Personal Rating – Mid-range three star: Though his athletic upside isn't as promising as some other athletes and his size may ultimately limit his production at the next level, Hawkins has the ability to contribute early in his career. Look for him to make a push for the two deep as early as a red shirt freshman or sophomore. Though he may never pull a fulltime starting job, Hawkins provides great depth, is a tremendous special teams player, and brings a much needed toughness to the heart of the defense. Top Stories