Ohio State signed Cedrick Hawkins out of Cocoa High School in Cocoa, Florida where he was ranked the No. 35 safety in the 2023 recruiting class. A four-star prospect, Hawkins was the No. 357 player in the nation per the 247Sports Composite.
Hawkins, who began playing varsity football in the eighth grade, signed with the Buckeyes over offers from Penn State, Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss, and many others. He was the last line of a Cocoa defense that won a state championship last year.
What To Like
There is a certain willingness to Cedrick Hawkins’ game that lends itself to finding playing time. That willingness really comes out against the run. Even though he checks in at 6-0 and 175 pounds, he plays with the kind of tenacity that every team needs and every opponent hates.
He attacks the run knowing that he has to be the low man, but he will also take on tight ends and fight off blocks if he’s lined up on the edge. Hawkins is also an effective one-on-one tackler who isn’t dragging guys to the ground while being carried for three or four yards. He also doesn’t wait for running backs to come to him.
As evidence of all of this, Hawkins finished with 117 tackles as a junior.
Cedrick Hawkins has lined up everywhere in the Cocoa secondary in his five years of varsity football. His versatility could land him at nickel for the Buckeyes, but his aggression and no-fear attitude against the run could also be a perfect fit for strong safety. The good news is that his versatility makes him an option just about anywhere.
Deep safety could also be in his future. He does a good job of keeping an eye on the quarterback and anticipating where the football is going. Hawkins adjusts well as the ball is in the air and positions himself to make a play. Whatever he is being asked to do, he looks comfortable with it, including being the absolute last line of defense.
The Buckeyes are deep at safety this year, which will make playing time difficult in the immediate future. Special teams could be an area where Cedrick Hawkins finds his footing. He excelled at kick coverage in high school, which further details his willingness to make plays in congested areas.
Moving forward, the Buckeyes are likely going to be replacing three senior safeties after this season, which means jobs will be wide open in a year. Any kind of experience Hawkins can find this year will be beneficial down the road. It will be interesting to see where he ends up at the start of camp, and how long he stays there.
The Bottom Line
With Ohio State playing three safeties on a regular basis, they need to continue to bring in high-level recruits each and every year. Cedrick Hawkins has the kind of versatility that can put him at different positions, but ultimately he needs to find a home.
If that home is at deep safety, he’s shown an ability to make plays on the football down the field. He can turn and run with receivers, and then come off of that in order to make a play elsewhere. If Hawkins ends up closer to the line of scrimmage, the Buckeyes will have a defender who will run to contact rather than away from it. And that ability to turn and run will still be there.
Previous Closer Look editions
Quarterback Lincoln Kienholz | Wide Receiver Carnell Tate | Wide Receiver Brandon Inniss | Wide Receiver Noah Rogers | Wide Receiver Bryson Rodgers | Tight End Jelani Thurman | Offensive Lineman Vic Cutler | Offensive Lineman Josh Simmons | Offensive Lineman Luke Montgomery | Offensive Lineman Joshua Padilla | Offensive Lineman Austin Siereveld | Defensive End Joshua Mickens | Defensive Tackle Kayden McDonald | Defensive Tackle Jason Moore | Cornerback Jermaine Mathews, Jr. | Cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt | Cornerback Davison Igbinosun | Safety Ja’Had Carter | Safety Jayden Bonsu