The Wolverine

2020 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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— as a receiver — Hawkins would have owned. This time, moving forward after racing back in good coverage, Hawkins couldn't win the jump ball. Those hard knocks have all fed into the player Hawkins aims to become in his final season in a winged helmet. Brown watches and participated in the process, and he is also looking forward to witnessing what knowl- edge combined with experience brings. "The nice thing about Brad is, he's learned the defense," Brown said. "There were times in his career, he was going through the grow- ing pains of executing at an elite level. "It took him some time to learn that. Plus, I also believe on the back end, you develop confidence as you play and play well, and cover guys and have the ability to cover. "This guy, everything's on the upswing. It really is. He's taking a leadership role. I'm meeting with the defensive leaders, and he's one of the guys I'll be meeting with. I feel very strongly about him having a strong year, and we'll be wishing him good thoughts as he heads to the NFL." Hawkins factored in as an integral part of the Michigan defense in 2019, securing 53 tackles, with one pass broken up. He is fully on board with adding the leadership component in his final season. Hawkins is doing so while getting used to some changes himself. He still calls former assistant Chris Par- tridge, who left Michigan last year after coming to Ann Arbor from Hawkins' native New Jersey, "my guy." But the senior knows how college football works and doesn't waste time looking back. "It's a business world," Hawkins said. "A lot of people leave; a lot of people stay. Me and Coach Partridge had a great relationship. That was definitely my guy, somebody I could go to and talk to about anything. "Life goes on, and that's just how the busi- ness world works. Coaches leave; coaches come. That's just part of it." The new part involves Bob Shoop, a for- Pro Football Focus tabbed Hawkins as a first-team All-Big Ten pick as a "flex" defender in 2019. The outlet noted he allowed only one catch against his coverage to go for more than 20 yards, and his grade was above an 80 in run defense, tackling and coverage on the year. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL THE WOLVERINE 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 109 "My vision for myself is being the best safety in college football. Being that Thorpe Award finalist. Going out there and dominating, every single play. … That's what I want to do, and that's what I'm going to do." HAWKINS

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