One year later, Anthony Hawkins feels settled at cornerback for CSU football

Colin Barnard

Through the opening weeks of spring football in 2017, Anthony Hawkins was focused on wide receiver. A year later, his focus still rests on the position group, but in an entirely different fashion.

Hawkins spent his freshman year as a wide receiver and entered his second season all the same in 2017 spring practices. But two weeks prior to the spring game, Hawkins made the transition to cornerback where he remained for the rest of the season.


Now preparing for his junior season, Hawkins finds himself atop the list of Rams’ defensive backs. Starter Kevin Nutt Jr., nickelback Justin Sweet and backup Shun Johnson will all graduate in May, leaving Hawkins as the lone returning cornerback with ample experience.

“I kind of knew losing three seniors at corner that the leadership role was going to increase more for me,” Hawkins said. “I sat behind a good corner, Kevin Nutt, who helped me out and who molded me a lot.” 

This spring is different than any other for Hawkins given his assurance at the position. Coming into his freshman season, Hawkins only played wide receiver. Last season, he was forced to transition in the middle of spring, preventing him from using a full spring schedule to settle into the position.

Despite the changes, Hawkins led the team with three interceptions and ranked fourth with five pass breakups. In other instances, though, Hawkins found himself on the wrong end of explosive plays from opposing offenses.

“It was an up-and-down season for Anthony, and we knew it would be,” coach Mike Bobo said. “I believe that experience he had last year was beneficial for him coming into this spring. I love the way (cornerbacks) coach (Eric) Lewis is coaching him right now, back to every little detail, the techniques of playing the position.”

With a full year at the position under his belt and no surprises set to derail his spring, Hawkins’ familiarity with the position moving forward is at an all-time high.

“I didn’t know how to backpedal until that Boise State game, I was pressing everything,” Hawkins joked. “It’s different now, I’m more comfortable at this position. Last (year) going in, I was going 100 miles per hour, I was everywhere, I didn’t know what to do. But now I have the time to mold myself, to mold other players.”

While Hawkins is developing into a steady presence in the defensive backfield, the same cannot be said for those accompanying him in the secondary. Though they are presumed to start come fall, safeties Jordan Fogal and Jamal Hicks are currently out of service.

To complicate matters, cornerback remains one of the most precarious position groups for CSU. Hawkins and sophomore Darius Campbell are the only returning players who played cornerback at CSU last season. Junior Braylin Scott will make the move back to cornerback, where he played his freshman season before switching to safety in 2016.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the position, Hawkins’ impact on the secondary becomes that much more important.


“I wasn’t much of a vocal leader, that wasn’t my thing, I was more of a lead by example type guy,” Hawkins said. “Now I’m trying to better myself by being more of a vocal leader to pick other people up.”

Collegian sports director Colin Barnard can be reached at or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.