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Buckeyes Crootin’ 2023 Class In Review: Defensive Back Cedrick Hawkins

Working through the class of 2023 to take a look at all of the future Buckeyes heading to Columbus next year.

Photo: Andrew Ivins, 247Sports

Cedrick Hawkins - Safety - Cocoa HS, Titusville (Florida) - 6-foot, 165 lbs.

Cedrick Hawkins was a surprise commitment to say the least, in more ways than one. Not many Buckeye fans or writers were talking much about Ohio State’s chances in that recruitment just yet, as I think nobody expected it to end this soon. He also committed in the middle of one of the most stressful games in recent Buckeye memory, the Rose Bowl against Utah, where Ohio State was in the middle of a brawl. I think most fans weren’t sure if we were getting punked by some fake Twitter account in the middle of the game, but it was true and the Buckeyes secured an absolute beast in the secondary from the state of Florida.

I know I personally had not heard of Hawkins prior to his commitment, so I immediately dove into his tape and was very happy with what I found. I believe this is someone who can play and play big time minutes in Columbus. There is also D1 talent in his family, as Cedrick Hawkins’ cousin Javian Hawkins is a Louisville running back.

Hawkins is the first defensive prospect to join the fold for the class of 2023, repping most of his time in the secondary at Cocoa High School down in Florida. I am going to take a look at some of his junior year tape here to see what the Buckeyes could be getting when he gets on campus.

In 2021 Hawkins posted his career high in tackles with 117 including three tackles for loss, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble while helping his team to an 11-2 record and a spot in the 4A Florida State Championship game. He also added a kick return touchdown, adding his value to the special teams game as well, which can be seen at the 0:16 mark of the highlight tape below. Hawkins is a ball hawk who just simply has a nose for the football and creating turnovers.

He has great change of direction and mobility, showing those quick twitch instincts that can make or break you in a game of inches and seconds. He also is not afraid to come up in the run game and make tackles on the running back. He shows the ability to make runners pay when running his direction (see 2:07 above) and won’t flinch when he meets runners in the hole. He shows no fear and an excellent ability to break down and make form tackles. Arm tackles are something Buckeye fans saw enough of in recent years, so they will be happy to hear this. A lot of the tape shows an emphasis on his run stopping ability, which I think has the chance to be elite.

His timing on blitzes is also quite nice and another tool that can be used in the Buckeyes arsenal, whether it be simulated pressure or actually drawing up run blitzes for Hawkins. He still has plenty of room to add more muscle mass and not sacrifice the speed or quick twitch cuts so that he can handle the bigger and more physical receivers in the Big Ten.

Hawkins seems to have the speed and physicality to play both safety spots, but it remains to be seen where he will start his career at with the new and very fluid Buckeye defense under Jim Knowles. He can cover the boundary side of the field very well, but also shows the ability to cover the field side with ease. He has the ability to lock up in man to man or drop back in zone and read the quarterback.

Versatility is something I am sure many of you are tired of me talking about, but I absolutely love the versatility of the prospects the Buckeyes have been bringing in. There is so many possibilities and schemes you can run when you have the right mix of players that can mend and mold into different play styles when needed in specific scenarios, such as third downs or red zone, etc. Hawkins definitely fits this mold and showcases it in his game film. Though mostly shown as the high safety, he is more than capable of taking on different mantles throughout depending on the situation that is called for.

He makes quick breaks when he reads where the ball is headed and is very decisive in his decision making. When the ball is in the air he can get the receiver in a hurry and make them regret ever going across the middle of the field. You can just tell the defenders who like to inflict punishment on their prey, errr.. I mean opponent, and Hawkins is one of them. He’s that enforcer you need in the secondary to put fear in the heart of the offense and make the wideout think twice or double take the center of the field next time they try a crossing route.

As I said, putting the fear in the heart of the offense to go over the middle of the field. And do not get me started on the ref pulling a flag there — it better not of been a penalty on Hawkins. That was an absolute body blow and clean as a freshly washed linen. In the words of the great Woody Hayes “There’s nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you,” and my god that offensive player must have one clean soul.