Fall camp is supposed to be an exciting time. Especially for someone with the kind of opportunity that Chris Hawkins has. But the recent days have been stressful on the young Trojan. Someone very close to him has fallen ill.
"My grandma just got diagnosed with cancer about a week ago," Hawkins said. "I'm out here working but she's on my mind every minute. I'm doing the best I can to get this fall and hopefully it all pays off. I love her to death and she keeps me thriving. My grandfather passed away when I was a sophomore in high school and I almost quit football. But she helped keep me thriving."
At this point, Hawkins' grandmother is as well as she can be. She's back home with her family.
"It's not too big of a deal right now," Hawkins said. "She got sent home and she's healthy. But hopefully, I get to see her a bit during camp."
While Hawkins has his mind on his grandmother, he' still managing to thrive on the field. He's managed to secure the third corner spot and there's a chance he'll be the second corner at the start of the season.
"It means a lot," Hawkins said. "It shows that my hard work is finally paying off. They told us earlier that it's all about roles on this team. My role is to be the starting nickel and the third corner coming off the bench. I'm fine with that. I'm going to keep working hard. I like my role and I think the team can benefit from it as well."
Hawkins wants to prove that he's a viable option at the second corner spot. He just wants to do it while everyone is completely healthy.
"Hopefully Kevon (Seymour) gets better," Hawkins said. "I know he's recovering right now and I'm praying for him to get better."
But even with a temporary promotion, not much has changed for Hawkins. There isn't much difference between a starter and playing nickel.
"I'm really just playing football," Hawkins said. "I'm doing what I love and I'm doing it on a daily basis. These are some of the best receivers in the country. I think Darreus Rogers has the best hands in the country and I think Nelson Agholor is one of the three best receivers in college football. Hopefully he'll be a first round draft pick. But It makes me better everyday. Nelson has told me that I bring a type of game he hasn't really seen before. I'll help him beat it when the next person comes to the plate with it. It's just about us both getting each other better."
And the redshirt freshman corner still wants to get so much better. Although he had a solid performance, Hawkins wasn't thrilled with himself and is looking to improve on day two.
"I'm still playing my techniques and playing football," Hawkins said. "Coach (Keith) Heyward teaches you something and he doesn't just want you to use it in drills but also on the field. Today we came out here a little rusty. I didn't give up a ball today but I got beat a couple of times. The quarterback just didn't throw the ball. It's something to get out of of practice. I'm going to get an icepack, watch film and come back tomorrow for a better day."