POSITION: Left tackle
Highlights: A former Freshman All-American second-team pick, the 6-foot-6, 309-pound Hawkins has been a solid addition to the Tigers’ offensive line after winning a starting job and being penciled into the lineup for the opening game of his redshirt freshman season in 2013. Now a two-year starter, he begins his junior season as one of the top tackles in the Southeastern Conference as well as the nation. Hawkins and senior Vadal Alexander, who moves back outside from guard after two seasons there, could arguably form one of the top tackle tandems in the conference.
Strengths: With a tremendous wingspan and reach, the massive tackle has the ability to engulf smaller, pass-rushing defensive ends. Hawkins considers his run-blocking to be one of his strengths, along with the recognition of blitzes by linebackers and defensive backs and twists by defensive linemen that are used to confuse offensive linemen. “Pass-blocking is a little harder because you have to use more technique, and you have to be patient by keeping your weight on your inside leg and watch your hand placements,” he said.
Must continue to: Work on his technique, especially now that he’s moved from right tackle to left tackle — where his No. 1 job is protecting the quarterback’s blind side. “There are some things to work on when it comes to technique,” he said. “Especially on pass-blocking, there are always things you can get better at. That’s a big thing for me.”
Projection: After starting 25 of LSU’s last 26 games at right tackle, Hawkins will swing over to the left side of the line to replace All-SEC performer La’el Collins. Hawkins isn’t a complete stranger to the position since he started one game at left tackle for an injured Collins in 2013, so filling a rather large pair of cleats was a rather smooth one.
“This is a fun group to coach. They are very athletic ... they’re very tuned in to football IQ in terms of knowledge of the game and they want more of that. The big thing they do is they play with such a competitive spirit.”
— New defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, on his new group after 1½ weeks of preseason camp.
No injury report (practice closed).
Next three up
TUEsday: Practice, 8:45 a.m.
WEDNESDAY: Practice, 8:45 a.m.; 4:15 p.m.
THURSDAY: Break camp (no practice).