Jeff, who was at practice on both Friday and Saturday, briefly described his weekend in Atlanta. First, somehow they were able to land a conveniently located hotel at the last minute, a surprise considering that the Final Four was in town. Hawkins said that on Friday, "We watched practice. I met all of the coaches and stuff. After practice we went to the Varsity and we ate dinner."
Then GT Junior Day started up on Saturday. "The next morning we woke up early and got to the prospect meetings at Junior Day," said Hawkins. "I talked with Coach Gailey and he told me pretty much what he was looking at me as. He said he was going to bring in possibly two tight ends, sign two of them and I'm one of six right now that they're looking at. We went to the locker rooms and got to watch the scrimmage. Then I pretty much just got all of my stuff, said goodbye to all of the coaches and left."
Jeff was a bit surprised at the amount of action the Tech tight ends got on Saturday in the scrimmage. "The tight ends were catching a lot of passes; a lot more than I thought they were going to catch," said Hawkins. "It was a really good scrimmage actually; really high quality. And the tight ends, I didn't know they were going to be used on special teams too, so that was pretty cool."
In his high school games Jeff also plays some special teams. In fact, he's been called on in the past to even to some kicking in addition to long snapping as well as the usual offense and defense. He's a tight end and middle linebacker for his high school team.
So what stuck out the most to Jeff from the city of Atlanta and the school? "All of the buildings really because I'm not really used to seeing all of those buildings around a football field," said Hawkins. "It was really different. The practice field was right in the middle of Atlanta and you could see the Coke building on one side and Turner Communications on the other side. It was really different for me. And the facilities were incredible."
Central Florida, South Florida, and South Carolina are the other schools Jeff has visited so far. The South Carolina visit was also for a Junior Day, though there was not a practice to go along with that event since it was done last month. UCF is the first school to offer Jeff and he thinks USF appears to be close to offering as well. GT running backs coach Curtis Modkins is taking the lead in recruiting Jeff for the Yellow Jackets.
As for looking forward to his recruiting decision timeframe, Jeff has planned out his steps he needs to take first. "Really I'm just going to try and do my best at some camps and combines and try to get as much exposure as possible," said Hawkins. "Then I'll start trying to narrow it down by visiting schools and hopefully be able to make a good decision."
The next camp he knows he's going to for sure is one at Georgia Tech on June 9th. He also plans to setup visits to UNC and Virginia Tech sometime soon.
The camps appear to be important dates for Hawkins as those evaluations could determine whether some offers come through or not. "Coach Gailey actually said that he can't really offer me anything right now because all he's seen is me on tape and another part was meeting me in person," said Hawkins. "He said that I showed good character and he liked that about me and he doesn't want to recruit thugs or anything like that. He said he really needs to see me in person, running routes and showing what kind of technique I have before offering me."
When preparing for these important camps, it will be business as usual for Jeff. "I'll be doing pretty much the same routine I'm doing now: jumping rope, sit-ups, doing a lot of core training, running sprints and just sticking with my weight lifting routine," said Hawkins.
Hawkins has played other sports in the past but has recently cut them all out except for football, where he sees his best chance at cutting it beyond high school. In addition to wrestling in the heavyweight division, Jeff said, "I was playing baseball for a long time and then I just really found my niche in football and I just really wanted to focus my time on it." Jeff's wishes don't end at the college level either. Like many high school players, he thinks about what it would be like to carry football out to being in the NFL. "My dream as a little kid was to play in the NFL and that's still what I'm working for and I'm trying to put in as much time as I can," said Hawkins. "That's my dream, that's my goal and that's what I'm trying to do. That's my first option. That's what I want to do in life."
Jeff showed a clear love for the game of football and follows the college and pro game closely. He roots for the Chicago Bears on Sundays, though doesn't seem 100% on board with off-season changes like losing Thomas Jones and the near-certain loss of Lance Briggs. He's hoping they'll have another good draft this month to make up for some of the losses.
In some ways, but not all, he likens himself to a star tight end for the New York Giants. "I've always looked closely at Jeremy Shockey and how he plays the game with a lot of enthusiasm," said Hawkins. "I don't know about the long hair and stuff like that but I've always tried to play the game with a lot of intensity and a lot of enthusiasm like he has."