“I’ve been here for a long time, so I had the chance to be around [Jonathan] Zenon for a while and learn from him,” Hawkins said. “I learned a lot from Ronnie Prude before him too. So I just learned the things they did well and now I’m trying to incorporate those things into my game and use those things to help me get better each day.”
Despite not having played much in his first three seasons with the Tigers, the redshirt junior heads into 2008 as the oldest cornerback on the LSU roster, a role he is already embracing.
“I feel like knowledge-wise I’m a veteran,” he said. “So I know most of the schemes and the defense well. The defense hasn’t changed since I’ve gotten here so I’m very comfortable with it. I feel like if the younger guys need something that they don’t want to ask coach about, they can come talk to me.”
Hawkins has come away equally impressed with their abilities.
“Even after watching them (Peterson and Taylor) for the first couple of days of practice, I could see they had tremendous ability and gave tremendous effort. At this point all they have to do is learn the schemes. I see them playing in the near future here very soon.”
Hawkins thinks the 2008 Tigers can have leaders that are just as strong as those three, given time.
“I don’t see leadership being a problem as much as it’s just something we need to work on,” he said. “The only thing that’s going to help that issue is getting on the field and performing in games. Getting game experience and rising to the occasion. The only way to get experience is to actually play the games so as the season goes on that will become a non-issue.”
Other than replacing the three starters from last season in the secondary, the biggest challenge facing the LSU defense heading into the 2008 season is replacing Bo Pelini at defensive coordinator.
Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale Peveto were named to replace Pelini as co-defensive coordinators, a move that left some concerned about the future of the Tiger defense. But Hawkins does not foresee any problems with having co-coordinators.
“I don’t think there will really be any problems having two coordinators,” he said. “Communication is really the biggest thing and that’s what we worked on the most during the spring and so far during camp. We had a few communication problems last year with not getting the call in on time or getting different calls on the same play. This year we’re getting one call in and going with it. So I don’t see any problems with that happening this year.”
Communication will be critical for LSU to continue its success on the defensive side of the ball, not only with the new coordinators, but also with all of the new faces in the secondary for 2008.