The Wolverine

2020 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 109 of 163

BY JOHN BORTON B rad Hawkins used to be the one wearing the target, the one defen- sive backs tried in vain to cover. He soared higher, levitated longer and rarely felt the football's rejection when it met his mitts. Those days are tiny in the rearview mir- ror now. The senior safely laughs about his chatter with former Michigan receivers, his chirping about how he could do what they did — only better. "I used to come like that a little freshman and sophomore year, talking to Tarik [Black] and the receivers," Hawkins recalled. "I'd say, 'I was a receiver, too.' There isn't too much to talk about now." Not on offense, anyway. Since the day Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown asked Hawkins to make the switch to the U-M secondary, he has never looked back. The path hasn't always been smooth, but the team singled him out as Michigan's most improved defensive performer last year. Not bad for someone who once saw him- self making all the catches. "Coming from high school, never had I worked out to try to be a DB," he admitted. "I never really backpedaled, never tried to do any DB drills, because I was so sure I was a wide receiver. The day Coach Brown asked me if I wanted to play defensive back, I told him yes. "It was my decision to make the switch. I told him yes, that I would love to play de- fense. I think it was a great move for me. It's something that's definitely going to help me in the long run. "I might run some routes here and there, just for play. I don't really think about it. I love safety now. It was a swift transition for me." Now, he's looking for more than improve- ment. He is looking to lead and lock down. Nothing is off the table, either individually or for the team. "My vision for myself is being the best safety in college football," Hawkins asserted. "Being that Thorpe Award finalist. Going out there and dominating, every single play. Get- ting 100-plus tackles this season. I just want to go out there and completely dominate everybody that's in front of me. "That's how I feel about it. That's what I want to do, and that's what I'm going to do." Brown saw something he liked early on with Hawkins. Defensive coordinators al- ways covet DBs with wide receiver skills, and this wasn't any exception. It's never an instant transition. Hawkins got introduced to the make-or-break nature of his present position early, when thrust into the lineup by former Wolverine Josh Me- tellus' targeting ejection in the 2018 opener at Notre Dame. The Irish fired one into the end zone that HIGH HIGH POINT POINT Brad Hawkins Looks To Go Out On Top 108 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW

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