Hawk Ready To Get Started

Some may think the idea of rugged football practices in the hot summer sun isn't too appealing, but preseason Big Ten defensive player of the year A.J. Hawk is looking forward to it. Hawk talked today about practice as well as the opener against Cincinnati.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk (left) is glad camp has arrived. He knows that OSU's linebacking corps is one of the best in the nation.

"Of course on paper, we're looking pretty good," Hawk said. "Adding Anthony Schlegel to the crew now, he's a proven great player already in college football. And you know Bobby Carpenter is going to have a huge year. You saw what he did in the Fiesta Bowl. So, we're excited. Can't wait to see what's going to happen. There's so much depth at linebacker too."

Hawk is all about football. He wasn't dreading coming to camp; he was looking forward to it.

"Yeah, camp is fun," he said. "Of course, there are long days and practices, but it's all worth it. We know we have a game coming up Sept. 4. We're going to be on the field against Cincinnati, and that's always a big game, especially with Coach (Mark) Dantonio down there.

"There's always light at the end of the tunnel. You know you're going to be out on the field soon and it's going to be unbelievable because we know we're only going to have six home games this year. So, we know we'll be ready and camp will go pretty fast and it will be the season before you know it. We have a game in less than a month."

Hawk has the utmost respect for Dantonio. That said, he wants to make sure his former defensive coordinator starts out his head coaching career with a 0-1 mark.

"That's what we've been shooting for," Hawk said. "Coach Dantonio called me right when he first took the job and I told him, 'We've got you first game next year' and he joked, 'Try and take it easy on us.' But I know we won't have the luxury of trying to take it easy on them. We know it will be a tough game and he'll have his guys ready to play."

Hawk expects the transition from Dantonio to new defensive coordinator Mark Snyder will be smooth. He doesn't expect any major changes.

"Obviously there is going to be new stuff put in and some people are going to be confused, but I think as a defense we just need to do what we've always done: run to the ball and play hard," Hawk said. "We won a national championship two years ago and won to the Fiesta Bowl last year by pursuing the ball and making sure we're in the right spots.

"I don't think things will be much different because Coach Snyder coached with Coach Dantonio for three years here and back at Youngstown before that. So, we didn't really change much on the defense. Our defense is going to stay pretty much the same. We're going to pursue and run to the ball and make teams work for their yards and make them try and throw on us. So, I don't think it will be much different at all. There might be a few tweaks here and there, but nothing that different."

Hawk was asked if he's concerned about his body wearing down during camp.

"Everyone's been here all summer working out and running, so we know we're in good physical shape," he said. "This is more about a mental test. Being in camp, having long days, putting new stuff in. Especially for the younger guys. They don't know what's going on."

Hawk, who led the Bucks with 106 tackles last year, was recently named the Big Ten's preseason defensive player of the year. Hawk is a humble guy, but admitted it was nice to get the notoriety.

"Of course it's an honor, obviously," he said. "But it's just one more thing that helps me know that I have to go out there and perform. But I have no doubts about the players around me. There's so many great players around me that if I don't make the play, someone else will. We're the type of defense that likes to get out there, run around and have fun. We're just excited to get out there and do it."

Hawk's older brother, Ryan, is the starting quarterback at Ohio University. He originally went to Miami University, but transferred due to the presence of Ben Roethlisberger.

Saturdays are an interesting time in the Hawk family. The parents see as many games as possible, even if it means splitting up for the day.

"They have it all mapped out already," Hawk said. "One parent goes to one game, the other goes to the other game. Usually my dad goes to the farthest away game, wherever that is, and my mom stays close to home. They love it.

"The first game, (Ryan) has a night game, so I'll be able to go see him play after we play UC and my parents will be able to see both games, so it works out well."


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