“Marcus is a big kid, he’s a strong kid, he’s pretty athletic for the size that he is, and he plays extremely hard,” Freedom head coach Brandon Allen said. “He’s one of our leaders for sure – even as a sophomore last year. With him becoming a junior, [that leadership] is just going to continue to grow. He has a good attitude, very charismatic, [and] has a great personality. But he’s still a young pup, so he has a lot of growing to do.”
After two weeks of preseason practice on junior varsity, Hawkins was promoted to varsity as a freshman. He went on to start every game that season. Nose guard was his primary position, but injuries forced him to see significant snaps at every spot along the D-line. He ended the 2013 season with 62 tackles.
As a sophomore, Hawkins accumulated 67 tackles.
Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest have expressed interested in Hawkins.
“I certainly think that with the interest level that he’s getting right now, he’ll be offered sometime relatively soon,” Allen said. “And usually there’s a domino effect after that offer. I know that [colleges] don’t typically like to offer sophomores a whole lot, but there have been a couple of schools that have expressed a great interest in possibly offering before the end of his sophomore year.”
Based on conversations with their coaches, Allen says East Carolina and Wake Forest are the favorites to extend Hawkins his first offer(s).
Last summer, Hawkins camped at UNC.
“Carolina is a great environment,” Hawkins said. “The coaches have great intensity from the start to the finish of the camp, so it went by pretty fast. The coaching was good and it wasn’t too big of a camp so you really got to showcase your talents.”
Hawkins returned to Chapel Hill in late January for UNC’s Junior Day. During his stay, he had lengthy conversations with Larry Fedora and area recruiter Seth Littrell.
“They both told me that I’m a young athlete and with that the offers are going to come,” Hawkins said. “When the offers come, I just can’t become complacent. [Fedora] said I have to work harder and improve each and every year as an athlete and a student.”
Prior to his departure, Keith Gilmore kept in regular contact with Hawkins. Shortly after Gilmore left for Notre Dame, John Papuchis reached out to Hawkins.
“He said he couldn’t really say too much to me about Chapel Hill, because at the time he hadn’t been on campus long himself,” Hawkins said. “But he said so far it has been a great experience. He seemed pretty interested in me and wanted me to keep up the good work.”
Besides UNC, Hawkins has visited Clemson, East Carolina, and Wake Forest.
“I really liked Chapel Hill and Clemson the most out of all the schools,” Hawkins said. “Chapel Hill, it’s a great environment. I like Coach Fedora and I think Coach [Gene] Chizik is going to be a great addition. [Chizik] has won championships, so he has that championship mindset.
“Clemson is in a small town, but they love their university. And coming from Morganton, a small town, it makes me feel at home when I’m down at Clemson. And that 80,000-plus [in Death Valley] sounds like 100,000-plus, which is really exciting.”
Hawkins’s teammate B.J. Emmons is verbally committed to Georgia, but continues to explore his options – including accompanying Hawkins during both UNC trips. Where Emmons ultimately ends up could play a role in Hawkins’s recruitment.
“B.J. and I have actually played against each other all of our lives until my freshman year,” Hawkins said. “In elementary school and middle school we’ve been rivals on the field. These past two seasons have been my first with B.J. and I prefer that. I feel like, his [college] decision may have some affect if the school would show me the same interest as they do with him.”
Hawkins is close with Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins – they grew up in nearby towns – and leans on him for advice… Hawkins is considering majoring in business.
Marcus Hawkins Profile
2017 Target: Marcus Hawkins
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