With Kevon Seymour’s early absence from fall camp, redshirt freshman cornerback Chris Hawkins has a sizable opportunity staring at him straight in the face: starting opposite of senior Josh Shaw. Hawkins only bolstered his case for the job this weekend in the Coliseum.
As the Trojan offense lined up for a play during a scrimmage situation, Hawkins realized something familiar in the offensive set.
“This time they were in a three by one to the boundary and I was on the trips side,” explained Hawkins. “We were in one of our animal calls, which is when a corner has to watch for a corner route and if he doesn’t, I have to get my eyes back on my man. I was watching Ajene Harris and I saw him run a corner route so I sunk under it. Cody, not knowing that I’m coming up under the ball, and once he threw it, I knew it was mine when it was in the air.”
Along with the interception during the scrimmage situation, Hawkins tipped multiple passes throughout Saturday’s practice. It was just continuation of the strong play Hawkins has showed throughout fall camp, but he knows every practice isn’t going to be as good as Saturday’s.
“I felt great,” Hawkins told USCFootball.com. “Every practice isn’t going to be great. Today, I felt was one of my better practices. The last two that have been in the Coli, I’ve practiced very well. It’s just starting to become a habit and I got to make it a habit if I want to be great.”
Hawkins has seen plenty of time with the first team during fall camp, but he’s not taking it for granted. Things can change at any time and Hawkins is very aware of that reality. Does he think he deserves to be running with the ones?
“I wouldn’t say I’ve earned the right because I just have to keep working,” said Hawkins. “At any moment he can switch it up, like he just said. He said he might throw a one in with a three and a three in with the ones at any time so I just got to be ready for changes at all times and not get down on myself if anything happens like that. Just stay with a level head.”
With junior cornerback Kevon Seymour missing time on the practice field, Hawkins has had ample time to make his case for a starting position. But he knows Seymour is still right there fighting for playing time.
“With Kevon out, I was able to step in and do what I had to do to prove that I could play with the ones,” said Hawkins. “That helped me a little bit, but Kevon’s back. Me, Josh, and Kevon. All three of us. We’ll see what happens in the next two weeks.”
Even if the redshirt freshman doesn’t end up winning the starting corner job opposite of Shaw, he feels like he can still contribute to this team in other ways, that being either on defense or special teams.
“Right now, I know for a fact that when we go nickel package, I’m the nickel,” Hawkins stated. “Kevon and Josh are the corners. I’m the nickel. And then on special teams, I’m a backup on almost every special teams. I’m fine with that. They’re trying to get some of the older guys with a little more experience special teamers out there first. So now I just watch and wait my turn.”
Only time will tell if Hawkins will win the starting cornerback job or not, but he knows he only helped his case with his performance Saturday at the Coliseum.
“It’s going to be my home for the next four years so I might as well get used to getting interceptions in it,” said Hawkins.