February 9, 2009
Devin Hawkins'' ability on the football field puts in him elite company.
But the fact that Hawkins was merely on the field and working hard this past season might have been the thing that helped him realize a goal Wednesday when he signed a national letter of intent to play football at East Mississippi Community College.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Caledonia High School senior played last year with a nagging ankle injury that restricted his speed and his explosiveness.
Caledonia coach Jason Forrester said the EMCC coaches already were impressed with Hawkins'' God-given ability. When they watched tape and saw Hawkins was still trying to contribute even at less than 100 percent, he said that stood out even more.
"They saw that he was hurt and that he was trying to do the best he could," Forrester said. "That really caught their eye because a lot of players would not play through that."
It also helps that Hawkins has a world of potential physically and skill wise. His speed and ability to get off the ball quickly combined with typical maturation that figures to help him add 30 to 40 pounds could give EMCC coach Buddy Stephens a terror off the edge.
Hawkins, whose brother, Andrew, is a wide receiver at EMCC, said he is excited about the prospects of taking the next step in his football career. He plans to use a healthy eating and weightlifting plan to add weight to help him get to 230 or 235 pounds by the end of his freshman season.
"I just love to play defense, any position," Hawkins said. "I just love being up close in the trenches. That is where it all starts. I feel defensive end is one of my specialties."
Hawkins feels his aggressiveness, his height, and his long arms could help him make an impact on defense. He knows he will have to adjust to the speed of the game at EMCC, but he believes in himself and knows a positive mind-set will help him make an impression.
"This is like a big dream to follow in my brother''s footsteps," said Devin, who has another brother, Larry Moore, who also went to Caledonia High. "I really look up to (Andrew) and getting to the next level period is a great achievement for me.
"At first I had some doubts, but my brothers kept picking me up when I had doubts and told me to stay positive. As long as I have a positive attitude about things and play my best I will see good results out of everything."
Forrester said Hawkins'' work ethic will put him in position to succeed. He said Hawkins worked hard to rehabilitate his ankle injury and that he never had to wonder whether Hawkins was doing what he was supposed to be doing.
He feels added weight and work on his technique could help Hawkins become a factor quarterbacks will have to look for every snap.
"With the height he brings he doesn''t need to get to the quarterback to make a huge disruption," Forrester said. "He has a huge wingspan, which will make it hard for somebody to throw over him. He has the quickness to get there, too."
Forrester said Hawkins should be able to put on 30-40 pounds and not lose any of his speed. Ultimately, he said 250 to 255 pounds would be a good weight for Hawkins to target as a sophomore.
From there, Forrester believes Hawkins has the potential to take his gifts to a four-year school and make life difficult for another set of quarterbacks.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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