As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at defensive lineman Aeneas Hawkins, who is ranked as the No. 22 defensive tackle prospect in the nation by Rivals.
School: Archbishop Moeller HS (OH)
Projected position: Defensive tackle
Ranking: Four stars by Rivals.com and ESPN; Three stars by 247sports
Status: Signed LOI in December; expected to enroll Summer 2018
Other offers: Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Hampton, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Marshall, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, Toledo, Central Florida, UCLA, USC, South Florida, Vanderbilt.
Projection: There’s a ton to like about Hawkins’ game, but rest assured, he’ll be a project. He has great feet, maybe the best of any defensive tackle in the 2018 class, and that’s going to be a good foundation for him. But he needs to get both bigger and stronger, as most every young interior defensive lineman does. Hawkins has to learn to use his hands better, and play with better leverage, especially once he gets bigger. That said, Hawkins is the son of former defensive back Artrell Hawkins, who played 11 seasons in the NFL after being drafted by Cincinnati in 1998. So he should be able to learn quickly and rely on his athleticism throughout the process. He’s a good prospect with plenty of potential to be a great player. But Penn State would be wise to let him learn for a few years before competing for playing time in 2020 — even though he’s so explosive, he’ll challenge in 2019 if he puts it together quicker than anticipated.