Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
The next few weeks are full of anticipation for former Ole Miss offensive lineman A.J. Hawkins as he prepares for the NFL draft. Hawkins, who started every game at right guard this past season, is currently training in Atlanta with former St. Louis Rams lineman Demarcus Curry.
“We do a combo of footwork drills, explosion and cardio such as running stadiums, jumping boxes and agility ladders,” Hawkins said.
Before signing with Ole Miss in 2009, Hawkins was rated the No. 22 center in the nation by Scout.com. Even as a freshman, he played in 10 out of the 13 games.
Matt Luke, offensive line coach for the Rebels, says that with Hawkins’ background and experience, he has an opportunity to play center in the NFL. Luke wrote in an email that Hawkins has the right assets, including “demeanor, athleticism and the way he carries himself.”
Hawkins says that his emotions regarding the draft vary each day.
“Some days I’m confident that my name will be called and other days I feel like I just don’t know.”
Hawkins recently worked out with the Atlanta Falcons in hopes of impressing them before draft day. He says the NFL will also evaluate how he reacts under pressure by having him take the Wonderlic Test, a 50-question test that must be completed in 12 minutes. But Hawkins feels his knowledge of the game and determination are what set him apart from others in the draft.
“My strength is my brain. If I can get a pre-snap read on the guy in front of me, I have an 80 percent better chance of beating him than with brute force.”
Dr. Brad Schultz, one of Hawkins’ journalism professors at Ole Miss, describes him as a determined person.
“He is someone that goes about his business and understands what’s expected of him and goes out and does it.”
Hawkins graduated from Ole Miss with a major in journalism and an emphasis in broadcast. During the draft, which runs April 25-37, Hawkins says that he will be in his room on a Playstation with three phones fully charged waiting for that all important call.
If it comes, Hawkins will be the 16th Rebel center to be selected in the NFL Draft.
Brad Schultz describes the type of student he saw in A.J. Hawkins.