No holding back for Hawkins

CLEMSON - It didn't take long for freshman linebacker Corico Hawkins to realize the difference between high school and the college game.

Even in just shoulder pads and helmets Hawkins felt the physical nature of football at the college level was one of the biggest adjustments he's had to make while transitioning from Baldwin HS (GA) to Clemson.

"Even when you don't have all the pads on, they don't really hold back in college," he said.

Currently slated as third-team will linebacker behind Kavell Conner and Jonathan Willard, Hawkins could likely see some playing time in 2009. As preseason progresses, Hawkins admitted he's got a ways to go before he knows all the ins and outs of playing linebacker in college.

To say he learns something new everyday during a meeting or on the practice field would be an understatement.

"Everyday you get a stack (about an inch) thick, on top of what you learned yesterday," he said.

Hawkins registered over 100 tackles as a senior at Baldwin. He also had six sacks and caused four fumbles. The class of 2009 No. 23 ranked middle linebacker also was a three star rated prospect by Scout.com.

With a few classes under his belt from summer sessions, Hawkins was excited about getting back into the classroom after having a co-op and a light academic load during his senior year.


"We're one big family. There's not just one guy that I'm not going to go to because he might get my spot," said Hawkins, "Everybody is like a family here."
"I was ready to get back into school. Learn something. I was ready to have some homework or something," Hawkins said. "(As a senior) I would just come home and have nothing to do. When I came to (Clemson) the biggest difference was papers."

He makes no bones about the challenge of adjusting to writing papers in specific formats and styles to suit a professor.

"That was the big thing. But other than that, everything was cool (with classes)," Hawkins said.

He credits everyone on defense; specifically Conner, Brandon Maye, Da'Quan Bowers and DeAndre McDaniel for helping him adjust to life as a collegiate student-athlete.

"We're one big family. There's not just one guy that I'm not going to go to because he might get my spot," said Hawkins, "Everybody is like a family here."

One of the more intense, vocal father-figures on the team, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, has been a good match for Hawkins, who said he played for an in your face type coach in high school. Steele's resume is enough to convince Hawkins what kind of coach he's playing for.

"He's been to the Panthers, he's been everywhere. He knows it all," he said. "He's a guy you really want to be around and learn from."

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