One of the keys to the 2017 recruiting class emphasized by the staff after a hectic finish to the 2016 class was the importance of recruiting well within the state of Illinois. One target in particular who the staff has focused in on is St. Charles (IL) North OT Isaac Hawn.
The big-framed, suburban Chicago offensive tackle has visited Illinois a handful of times and picked up an offer from the Illini in recent weeks.
But what makes Hawn a prospect that is drawing the attention of numerous schools including Illinois? He says he has improved a lot this offseason and hopes to be able to prove that his senior year.
"Some of the biggest areas I've been working on are my pass-pro footwork and lower body strength. I have increased my max squat to 565 lbs, bench max is 325, and my max clean is 280. I've kept up 7-9 workouts per week with team lifts, speed training, US Army Combine training, and the OL academy at Don Beebe's house of speed. I've been getting some quality one-on-one reps with some of the best DE's in the area. All of this training is helping my speed, strength, and OL skill sets."
Heading into his senior year, Hawn knows that expectations of him are high, but he is holding his expectations for himself even higher. He's ready to assume leadership and be a guy his teammates look to all year.
"I am definitely holding myself to a higher standard now that I will be a senior," Hawn said. "As a team captain, I lead by example and and by never taking any reps off. I hold myself and others accountable."
But beyond his own play, Hawn hopes he can mentor the next guys up who will be in his position once he graduates, too.
"I really like working with the young guys," he said. "I know they are watching me and I do my best to set the example for them and encourage them to work hard, set goals, develop a plan, and work toward continuous improvement."
Hawn credits his coaches for guiding him to where he is today and molding him into the leader he has become.
"It's also been great to work more closely with our coaches," Hawn said. "We have some great guys coming back and we've all bought into Coach Pomazak's vision for our team. He has instituted a leadership training program that will help us do the small things right every time and win more games next season."
Hawn is hoping that his hard work and development this offseason will help him to achieve many of his goals he already has set out for himself this coming year.
"I'd like to beat our rivals Geneva and Batavia, win our conference, make the playoffs, and win a state championship," he said. "I'm sure everyone has those same goals, but I believe we are putting in the work to accomplish them."
"My goal every play is to destroy the guy on the other side of the ball - every single time. If I take care of my business and lead my teammates to take care of theirs, We Will Win!"
Catch those last three words? OK, good.
Speaking of Illinois, Hawn has been growing a strong relationship with the Illinois staff over the last few months. That bond has Hawn strongly considering Illinois, and he hopes to continue growing that relationship as his recruitment progresses.
"It's been great getting to know the Illini coaches and players," Hawn said. "I had a great visit last week and got to spend a lot of time with Coach Seamonson and Coach Scheelhaase. They introduced me to a lot of the players in the locker room and we got to watch some of the NFL combine together. It was a really great day."
Hawn continued, "I just really like the culture. I had the chance to talk to Coach Ricker - he has a great reputation as a player and a coach. I really have a lot of respect for him. All the coaches really have the will to win."
Aside from his visit to Illinois, Hawn is planning a busy spring, which will include visits to Indiana, NIU, Duke, Western Michigan, Miami, and Illinois. He said other visits are possible, too, but that he's still working out his schedule.
But in a future home, Hawn is looking for a balance of football and academics. He wants to make sure that he can develop both on and off the field.
"Wherever I go, the quality and integrity of the football program is really important to me," said Hawn. "(I'm looking for) a place where I can develop to my fullest potential as a player and reach the next level, but also win a lot of games alongside my teammates. A strong brotherhood of players means a lot to me. Of course academics are very important to me. I'm looking for the combination of championship football and a world class education."
Hawn said he's not considered a decision timetable yet and isn't ready to put one out, but said he's exploring his options and will know more as he searches for the best balance of both football and education.null