Pennsylvania senior looking to bounce back

Early on during the 2003 football season, he had the world in front of him. The University of Cincinnati was set to offer him a full scholarship to play football for the Bearcats. He was a returning 2nd Team AP All-State performer and regarded as on of the best athletes in the state. Then, the wheels fell off for WR Andrew Hawkins (5-8, 175, 4.48) of Bishop McCort HS in Johnstown.

Andrew Hawkins was playing in the 7th game of the season against rival Johnstown. Crimson Crushers coach Ken Salem ran a play that they ran before, a simple swing pass. The ball was tipped and fell behind the line of scrimmage. Hawkins picked up the loose ball and was caught from the backside with a helmet against his left ankle and another Trojan player tackled him up high. The weight and pressure snapped Andrew's ankle. The injury ended the promising young man's season.

Hawkins still had hopes of getting his offer from the Bearcats. Cincinnati hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio to take over the reigns of its struggling program. Dantonio came in and pulled all of the scholarship offers that the old staff had given out. Now Hawkins was left with a fractured ankle and a coach who didn't know him. The result was that the offer Andrew had wanted never came. His brother, Artrell Hawkins Jr., was a standout CB at Cincinnati. Andrew would not get the opportunity to follow in his big brother's footsteps.

What was your initial reaction to the Cincinnati hiring, and pulling of the scholarships?

"I was disappointed. They told me they were going to offer, then the coach got fired. Things happen for a reason, so I am sure it will work out for me in the long run," said Hawkins.

Andrew was offered scholarships by D-1AA programs Lehigh and Holy Cross, but he felt he wanted and deserved more, a chance to play big time college football like many in his family have before him. So he has decided to enroll at Mercersburg Academy (Mercersburg, PA), although not because of academics, he has a 2.8 GPA and has scored 1,080 on his college boards. Andrew wants to show people he is a Division 1-A player, so he will attend the academy and if he is offered he can leave in January and enroll in the program of his choosing.

What schools are you interested in now?

"Pittsburgh, Penn State, Marshall, Akron, Northern Illinois, and West Virginia."

"I am getting tape to all of them and informing them that I am enrolling in a post graduate program."

Andrew, you have always been an outstanding CB. Why are you now focusing on being a WR?

"It's tough to make it as a 5'8" CB. I have to prove that I can be effective in the slot. The slot gives me a better chance of making it. At Mercersburg, I will play both ways."

Are you fully recovered now? And what are you currently doing?

"I'm 100%. I have gained 25 lbs of muscle. I am currently running track. I run the 4x100, the triple and long jumps. I am now starting to run the 100, also."

What are you're best marks in those events?

"I'm running the 100 in just over 11. We have 2 kids on our relay team who run sub 11 sec times. We are ranked 1st in District 6. My best triple jump is 40'10" and my best long jump is 20'2"."

In 2002, Andrew's junior season, he was named to the AP All-State Class AA 2nd Team, 1st team All-Conference, 1st Team Tribune- Democrat. He had 18 catches for 357 yards, 15 rushes for 167 yards, 60 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 12 passes defended. He also averaged 26 yards per kickoff return and 21 yards per punt return.

In 2003, through 6 games, he averaged 8.6 yards per carry, 25.1 yards per reception, 38 yards per kickoff return, 33.4 yards per punt return, 561 yards rushing, 101 yards receiving, 8 total touchdowns, 28 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 9 passes defended. He only allowed 4 receptions against him in those 6 games. He was named Pennsylvania Pre-Season All-State, 2nd Team PA Football News All-State, 2nd Team AP All-State, 2nd Team Tribune-Democrat, 1st Team All-Conference. He was selected for the PSFCA East-West game and as an alternate for the Big 33 game.

Three teams really stand out to Andrew: Pittsburgh, Penn State, and Marshall.

What does he like about these 3 teams?

"Pittsburgh I like because my dad went there. Marshall, they are one of the winningest programs around. Penn State, I have some friends who go there, Jim Kunich from Westmont and Greg Harrison from Shenandoah Valley. Greg and me talk all the time. I am going to the Penn State Spring game."

Andrew comes from a very athletic family. His father, Artrell Hawkins, was a two time lettermen as a RB at Pitt. He later went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His brother, Artrell Hawkins Jr., was a standout CB at Cincinnati. He then went on to start for several years for the Cincinnati Bengals and recently signed a free agent deal with the Carolina Panthers. His cousin, Geroy Simon, starred as a WR for the Maryland Terrapins. He then played briefly for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had several stints on NFL practice squads including Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. He is currently the leading receiver in the CFL with the British Columbia Lions. Another cousin of Andrew's is former NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion and NFL All-Pro Carlton Haselrig, who played for the Steelers.

We wish Andrew luck in his recuperation from a serious injury and we will follow his progress at Mercersburg Academy.

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