The Trojans continue to grind away during team runs, in the weight room and player-run practices. The players have a couple weeks remaining before fall camp begins on Aug. 8 and then there’s less than a month before the team takes the field for the season opener against Arkansas State at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 5.
The action is coming, but in the mean time, we’re counting down the “30 Key Trojans” to keep some USC football in the lives of all the Trojan fans slowly watching the calendar until that first kickoff against the Red Wolves.
We are counting down the 30 USC players most important to the Trojans’ success this season. This list is not the 30 most talented players or the 30 players that will put up the best stats, but instead the guys that could propel USC to a successful season.
Which players’ success is key for the Trojans’ season to be a success?
28. Chris Hawkins - Redshirt Sophomore
Coming in at No. 28 on our countdown is defensive back Chris Hawkins. Last season, Hawkins saw his first action and played in 11 games as a redshirt freshman, making 32 tackles and one interception. He also had two breakups and defended three passes. He started the first five games of the season before Adoree Jackson took over the starting cornerback role opposite of Kevon Seymour.
While Hawkins didn’t get beat much, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) product was often called for penalties, getting flagged for a pass interference and three holdings in his five starts. He also picked up a personal foul in the Colorado game, but also recorded a career-high nine tackles and both of his breakups. Halfway through the season, the coaching staff decided to give freshman Jonathan Lockett more of an opportunity and with the re-emergence of senior Josh Shaw after his suspension was lifted late in the season, Hawkins did not play in two of the last three games of the season.
But Hawkins has made the offseason transition from cornerback to safety beginning during the USC football practices leading up to the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska. Hawkins has looked very natural at the safety position and is able to use his vast football intelligence even more. Hawkins was fantastic during the spring at the safety position and appears very natural playing over the top of the defense.
Being able to watch everything develop, he is able to decipher and dissect plays, which seems to fit his skill set better. And rather than being worried about getting called for grabbing jersey like last year, Hawkins has shown that he can come in and produce a hit that will separate the receiver from the ball. It seems like Hawkins has been around for several years, but he’s only a sophomore this season, so this could end up being a career-altering position change.
PERSONAL SEASON GOAL:
“To win a Pac-12 championship.” — Chris Hawkins
“By his personality and physical skills, Chris seems like he's always been a safety. He's a vocal guy. Spend a morning at the summer throwing sessions and you'll know for sure just how much. Chris is a tough guy. He's a leader, teaching a position he's barely been playing. And he's unafraid. Sounds like a safety to me. Could be the right move for everyone involved.." — Dan Weber, USCfootball.com
Keely Eure chatted with Chris Hawkins during the spring about the transition to the safety position and how it was going at that time:
|28||Chris Hawkins||34||21 (Twice)||Not listed (Twice)|
|29||Viane Talamaivao||23 pts||22 (Keely Eure)||Not listed (Three times)|
|30||Ykili Ross||21 pts||22 (Austin Geller)||Not listed (Twice)|