• John Macon Gillespie

Hawkins Excels At Cornerback

During Brandon’s meteoric rise to the top echelon of 6A teams in Mississippi, the Bulldogs defensive backs have been one of the best position groups in the state. One of the senior leaders in the secondary is cornerback Rodney Hawkins.

Hawkins had always played at wide receiver while at Brandon, but in the beginning of his junior year, that changed.

“All I remember is Coach Rob (Greg Robinson, assistant coach), telling me to come here and try this,” said Hawkins. The 6’2 185-pound corner, took to the new position instantly and is a better football player for it.

“I’m very glad I moved to that position because I probably wouldn’t be getting looked at by the teams that have offered me and are still talking to me, so it’s been a fun experience trying something new and being good at it.”

Since moving to cornerback, Rodney has become one of the most highly recruited defensive backs in the state, with interest being shown from Troy, Southern Miss, Mississippi State, Memphis, Ole Miss, Jackson State, and Louisiana-Monroe.

So far, Hawkins has 5 interceptions, 17 tackles, 5 passes deflected, and a punt return for a touchdown. That, in itself, is impressive numbers when you factor out that he’s missed 2 games this season with an injury. He suffered a torn labrum in a 7v7 this summer and had to rest it for 2 games, but is now playing through the pain. He tells me that he will have surgery on it in the offseason.

Despite the injury, Hawkins is playing all over the field. He locks down the opposing team’s best wide receiver all game, returns punts, and on occasion is thrown in at wide receiver when the coaches want a big bodied guy in to make a catch.

Despite all the accolades, Hawkins remains humble. “I just want to try to keep the secondary hype and lead us to state and have the best defense in the state.”

So far, he is exceeding. Just Friday night, He was able to help the Bulldog defense hold Petal’s offense to just 14 points in a blowout win.

Even with a loss against both Clinton and Tupelo (the two games Hawkins missed), Brandon has the leadership, toughness, and talent to win 6A this year and Rodney Hawkins will be a big reason why if they do.

**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.

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