Hawkins knows now is the time

With inevitable attrition set to hit the LSU offensive line this offseason, bowl practices are a critical time for starters of the future to step up. No one knows that more than Jerald Hawkins.

If any player knows the importance of bowl season and the additional practice time at hand, it’s Jerald Hawkins.

LSU’s starting right tackle the last two seasons began to win the job he currently occupies during this stretch in December of 2012, at the tail end of his first season on campus when Hawkins was taking a redshirt and the Tigers were headed to the Chick-fil-A Bowl to play Clemson.

It’s an experience Hawkins still remembers well. And the primary lesson is one he’s now passing down to the next wave of young offensive linemen.

“You can definitely start to win a job at a time like this,” Hawkins told TSD. “I remember my freshman year, I was looking at [Josh] Dworaczyk and he was just telling me ‘C’mon, next year. You’ve got to step up and it starts now.’ I just had that mindset since and kept going from there.”

So what does this three-week span of extended bowl practices mean for guys like K.J. Malone and Garrett Brumfield and Andy Dodd?

“It’s important for the young guys. Toward the end of the year they’re starting to put everything together,” explained Hawkins. “Throughout the year they get reps, but it’s not really that much. But now there are more reps for the young guys. It’s a learning experience to see where they’re going to be at next year and what they need to work on and learn more on. It’s a great step for the young guys.”

For an LSU roster that will definitely lose starters La’el Collins and Elliott Porter and could see Hawkins and Vadal Alexander depart (both confirmed this week they’re seeking draft grades from the advisory board), this is an especially important juncture for the offensive line of the future.

Hawkins also gave a brief scouting report on the Notre Dame defensive line.

“They twist a lot on any down. It doesn’t matter,” he said. “It can be first-and-10 or second-and-three, they can twist whenever they want. They’re pretty shifty . . . We have to trust our technique, especially with these twists. Less is more. You don’t have to overcorrect yourself or overdo it. Just handle your business, be calm and be patient.”

Check out TSD’s entire audio interview with Hawkins below.

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