Slap The Sign discussed all things Notre Dame with Aeneas Hawkins on Monday.
With Junior Day taking place this weekend at Notre Dame, I spoke with top defensive line recruit Aeneas Hawkins, who will be in attendance.
With Hawkins playing his ball at one of the best high school programs in Ohio, I asked him what it’s like to play for Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller.
“There, you don’t really know what your getting into when you sign up to go there….Once you really experience it and play with guys like the Hausmanns’ and the Hubbards’ and the Elijah Taylors’, it’s hard to deny what we do there. It’s been a blessing,” Hawkins said proudly.
“There’s Penn State commits, there’s Clemson commits….”
In terms of his size regarding whether he will play defensive end or tackle, I asked him where he was at with his weight training. This is what he had to say:
“I’m about 265 right now. That’s a lot heavier than I played at last season. I probably played at a lot closer to 250. I’ve been working on putting on good muscle. Good lean muscle. That way I don’t lose any of my speed. I feel like my speed and my motor is improving right now.”
“I want to put on weight so I can play defensive tackle, but not too much weight to where I’m getting slow….At this point right now, I’d say I’m more of a defensive end than a defensive tackle. I think a lot of coaches are recruiting me as a three-technique like an Aaron Donald or a Geno Adkins.”
Aeneas Hawkins is close with Archbishop Moeller product and current Notre Dame defensive tackle Elijah Taylor. He spoke about their connection.
“Generally speaking, he’s a quiet dude but when he’s passionate about something, he’s very vocal. He’s always been very vocal about the tradition at Notre Dame. He’s very amplified that it’s like a bigger version of Moeller High School,” Hawkins explained.
He went on to speak about Taylor’s personal experience at Notre Dame.
“He’s very happy with it over there. He’s very happy with it. He’s happy with Coach Elston moving back to the defensive line. That’s the guy that recruited him. He’s very excited to say the least.”
I asked Hawkins if he had been hearing from the Notre Dame coaching staff. Here’s what he said about new defensive coordinator Mike Elko.
“I’ve talked to Coach Elko pretty frequently since he got his new spot. I’m excited about what he’s doing there. People seem to love him a lot. I like his attitude. He’s very upfront with how he see’s me as a football player. I’m very excited.”
Here is what he said about Mike Elston and Brian Kelly.
“Coach Elston. He’s a guy that continues to contact me on the daily…I think he’s one of the better recruiters in College Football. I’ve talked to Coach Kelly on the phone a lot.”
Hawkins then explained to me how he’s feeling about returning to Notre Dame for a third time for Junior Day and what he will be focusing on.
“I will be excited to get around them again (staff). I’m interested to see how they coach bouncing back from last season. I know they went through some adversity but I know they have talent there and great tradition. I don’t doubt the fact that they’re going to bounce back.”
He then talked about the current players during Junior Day.
“I want to see how they approach it (adversity). I want to see how the players really address the challenge of bringing Notre Dame football back. Those will be the things I’m looking at closely.”
I asked Hawkins why he’s considering Notre Dame.
“Academically, it’s second to none, especially with the level of football they play. It’s excellent. Another thing I kind of look at is the type of guys that I’d be playing with when I’d go there.”
As well as many other top recruits, RB commit Markese Stepp has made his mark on Hawkins as well.
“I’ve developed a relationship with a guy like Markese Stepp who’s in my class. I mean, this dude does not waver a little bit on Notre Dame. Every morning, he text’s me something, trying to get me to Notre Dame, trying to get me on board with him. It’s exciting to hear guys like that.
I closed the conversation by asking Hawkins if Notre Dame is one of his leaders right now. He answered immediately and firmly.
“Absolutely. I’m not going to release a list right now, but, I can promise you that Notre Dame is one of the top ones.”
Aeneas Hawkins’ blend of size, speed and technique is something that clearly interests Notre Dame a great deal.
They currently have Justin and Jayson Ademilola, twins from Jersey City, NJ, committed at defensive end and defensive tackle. They’ll be looking for more top talent to add to their defensive front in their class of 2018 and Hawkins fits the bill.
Keep your eye on this recruitment. It should be a busy one.