Under pressure

Under pressure

CLEMSON - Amidst all the excitement of the freshmen linebackers is Corico Hawkins, who's started at the MIKE position in Clemson's last 14 games.

But he understands the nature of the beast -- recruiting is the lifeblood of college football.

"That's the business that we're in. It's college football," Hawkins said after the start of preseason camp. "At a place like Clemson, with the great coaches that we have, they're going to go out and recruit the best players. That's what you want. Competition brings out the best in you."


Corico Hawkins finished third on the team in total tackles last season with 71, including 10 for loss. (Roy Philpott)
When the Tigers opened practice on Friday night, he was joined by a former five-star prospect, Stephone Anthony, and two four-stars, Tony Steward and Lateek Townsend. Also new to the linebacker group are B.J. Goodson and Colton Walls.

Hawkins has no qualms with the additions.

"Those are some great guys. They're hungry for a position. They want to play," he said. "I've got to continue to lead my guys, to lead my team. Whatever happens, happens."

Despite the pressure of potentially losing playing time to a freshman, Hawkins hasn't lost sight of the big picture. The 5-foot-11, 230-pound middle linebacker wants to be a leader, even if it comes with a price.

"I'm going to help them the best way I can -- whatever they need help with," he said. "I'm always telling them, don't false step here and you kind of locked out your hips a little bit -- just helping them anyway that I can, no matter what it is, any questions they have."

Instead of worrying who's on his tail, Hawkins looks forward.

"You can't be riding down I-85 looking in your rearview mirror. That's why the windshield is as big as it is. You've got to look ahead first."

He shared a word of advice that was imparted upon him by defensive coordinator Kevin Steele:

"If you're worried about what's in your rearview mirror, you're going to wreck. You can't be riding down I-85 looking in your rearview mirror. That's why the windshield is as big as it is. You've got to look ahead first. Every now and then, you look back at what's behind you."

Pretty good advice for the highway too.

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