Understandably, a big question on everyone's mind on Signing Day is "Hey Coach, which players are impact players?"
Hawkins isn't the type of coach to rattle off a list of names publicly when the topic comes up. He's old school: That'll be decided in August when camp starts.
However, Hawkins said, "We're counting on some impact guys."
He then noted the returning numbers are thin on the offensive line and defensive line. And he said the team is looking for playmakers. It will depend on who comes in emotionally, mentally and physically mature enough to compete with the veterans.
He also said he tells his veteran players, "every year I'm going to try to bring somebody in here to beat you out. That's the nature of the game."
Toughest Position to Predict Success?
Asked what the toughest position is to predict success when recruiting high school players, Hawkins paused for a while, then said maybe quarterback – because of all the intangibles that go into playing the position at a high level. But he added there are always players at every position who you think will be just OK that turn out to be studs, and guys you think are "can't misses" who miss.
The following are brief notes on some of the players Hawkins mentioned by name Wednesday.
• Celestine is a burner and Josh Smith is a tremendous talent with wheels at receiver. Markques Simas doesn't have their speed, but is the most polished of the three playmaking receivers in the class.
• They like the two quarterbacks. Nick Nelson won in high school and junior college, and is tough and smart. Matt Ballenger "looks like they're supposed to look," Hawkins said. Hawkins first saw Ballenger when his team (as a sophomore) was playing Cody Hawkins' team. When Ballenger walked onto the field, Dan Hawkins went scrambling for a program to find out who he was because he just looked the part so much.
• Conrad Obi is relatively new to football, but "is electric."
• Hawkins used the "Reggie Bush" comparison for Patrick Gates. "I'm not trying to exceed expectations, but he's a Reggie Bush type of player. He makes those types of plays." Hawkins and Saddleback coach Mark McElroy have a long relationship and Hawk trusts Mac's judgment. Mac thinks Gates is exactly the kind of player Hawk's staff uses well.
•Sione Tau weighs 314 and can get up and down the basketball court (he's playing now).
• Kai Maiava (who's dad played at CU back in the day) "runs around good. He can pancake you," Hawkins said.
• Shawn Daniels "is a tough, blue-collar guy that bleeds black and gold," Hawkins said.
• He called Ethan Adkins "a big old horse," and praised the job Jeff Ketron does with toughening up his Douglas County kids.
• Matt Bahr is "very athletic."
• Nate Vaiomounga "has a big-time motor. He plays hard and makes a lot of plays." Vaio is wrestling for the first time this year, and Hawkins said he either gets pinned (because he has no technique) or he pins his opponent (because he's tireless).