• John Macon Gillespie

Hawkins Joins Teammates At Fortius

Several big time Brandon Bulldogs have already signed up to compete at the Fortius Project combine this spring. A few have been highlighted already, Rodney Hawkins Jr. is up next.

“Well, we’re all tough competitors and I think we’ll do well,” Hawkins told SES Mississippi.

The talented junior defensive back shined last season, not only agains the pass, but also in the box as a run stopper. He finished with 42 tackles, four interceptions and eight pass deflections. He returned an interception 35 yards for a score against Terry last season, just a few weeks after picking off two passes against Madison Central.

“I watched from the sideline my sophomore year. So when I finally got an opportunity to be on the field I was anxious and determined to do well,” He said.

Another opportunity presents itself for Hawkins at Fortius. This time it is a chance to impress amongst some of the best playmakers in the state.

“I’m looking forward to meeting some competition and getting better at techniques,” Hawkins said.

When asked where he is most looking to improve, he explained that his footwork could stand to get better. On the other hand he feels his work in the 40-yard dash and the vertical leap will impress.

He flashed his speed last season on two separate punt returns for scores, in addition to the previously mentioned interception return. In fact, he returned a punt and interception for a score against Terry. There is no question his speed makes him the playmaker he is.

He also feels that the 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 portions of the event will be shining moments for him. This would be a time where his speed and vertical could combine to contribute to an impressive performance.

Looking towards the rest of the long offseason beyond Fortius, Hawkins just wants to sharpen skills that could already be considered strengths for him.

“I have to work on strength and speed,” He explained.

As for his team he said, “teamwork and believing in the guy next to us,” were the major factors in Brandon’s success last season. Looking ahead to next season he says more of the same is what will lead them to an even better finish.

“We want to continue encouraging and believing in each other,” Hawkins said.

The Bulldogs were defeated in the second round of the 6A playoffs last season by Petal, who they had defeated 35-14 just a few weeks prior.

With a young core, an experienced quarterback and stout defense returning the Bulldogs should be a major factor again in 2016.

**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.

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