Ohio State football Cedrick Hawkins

2023 Ohio State Freshman Class Report: Safety Cedrick Hawkins

This is the 17th installment in a series where Buckeye Huddle looks back on each member of Ohio State’s 2023 signing class and the impact they had as rookies, as well as the impact they could have during the upcoming 2024 season. Up next is safety Cedrick Hawkins.

Cedrick Hawkins won a state championship as a senior at Cocoa High School in Cocoa, Florida. He tallied 50 tackles, one interception, and three passes defended in helping lead his team to a title. As a junior, Hawkins posted 117 tackles, three tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries, and 10 pass breakups. He finished his career with 309 tackles, 14 interceptions, and 43 pass breakups.

Hawkins (5-11 182) was a four-star prospect in the 2023 recruiting class. He was ranked the No. 35 safety in the nation and the No. 357 player overall. He signed with Ohio State over offers from Auburn, Florida State, Florida, Miami, Penn State, Tennessee, and many others.

2023 Season

Cedrick Hawkins was one of three safeties that Ohio State signed in the 2023 recruiting class. He joined Ohio’s Malik Hartford and New Jersey’s Jayden Bonsu, but Hartford was the only one of the three to enroll early. Not coincidentally, Hartford was the only one of the three who saw the field as true freshmen.

Hawkins arrived in June and found himself in a fairly deep safety room. The Buckeyes had two seniors returning in Josh Proctor and Lathan Ransom, an experienced veteran in Cam Martinez, a talented sophomore in Sonny Styles, and they also brought in Ja’Had Carter who had been a multi-year starter at Syracuse. The path to playing time was always going to be difficult without winter and spring to help.

So Now What For Cedrick Hawkins?

Cedrick Hawkins is getting ready to take part in his first spring camp as a Buckeye. It will be interesting to see where he lines up in the secondary. Is he a free safety? Strong safety? Nickel? His frame and athleticism don’t necessarily limit him from any of these options.

Like a year ago, the Buckeyes have once again gone into the transfer portal for a safety. Former Alabama safety Caleb Downs is a Buckeye and also a likely starter. The Buckeyes lost starting free safety Josh Proctor to graduation, but that spot will almost certainly be filled by Downs. Lathan Ransom returns at strong safety. Nickels Jordan Hancock and Sonny Styles are both back.

The safety situation still has plenty of shaking out to do, but there are spots available in the two-deep for somebody like Hawkins. With Malik Hartford and Ja’Had Carter both back, however, the most immediate option may be at nickel behind Jordan Hancock — but that’s only if Sonny Styles makes the move to linebacker.

Basically, the safety room is pretty deep this year. And it would also be unfair to expect more than special teams contributions for a redshirt freshman who never saw the field last year. Cedrick Hawkins is just the kind of guy who can take a role like that and run with it, however.


Safety Malik Hartford
Receiver Brandon Inniss
Safety Jayden Bonsu
Offensive Tackle Luke Montgomery
Defensive End Joshua Mickens
Tight End Jelani Thurman
Defensive Tackle Will Smith, Jr.
Cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt
Quarterback Lincoln Kienholz
Linebacker Nigel Glover
Offensive Guard Austin Siereveld
Cornerback Jermaine Mathews, Jr.
Defensive Tackle Jason Moore
Linebacker Arvell Reese
Defensive Tackle Kayden McDonald
Interior Lineman Joshua Padilla

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