BY BRANDON SPECK
TUPELO – Blake Hawkins is in the same position he was in 13 months ago, standing in the Mississippi heat in a white and blue uniform at Tupelo’s Ballard Park, leading his team in the National Select 7-on-7 Qualifier.
Only Thursday, it was in Florence, Ala., colors, instead of those for Tishomingo County.
Last June, he was also starting to build some personal momentum. Colleges were starting to take notice of the 6-foot-5, 210-pound pro-style passer. So he was trying to show what he could do, too. His team has changed. That hasn’t changed. But the move has drastically changed, and improved, his situation.
“It was for football reasons, and my father working in North Alabama, it was just an easy move,” Hawkins said. “It’s been a good transition. I’m enjoying it.”
He doesn’t yet have an offer, but that may soon change. Hawkins is hearing from Mississippi State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee and UAB – all programs where he attended camps.
Hawkins moved in the spring. Last fall, he threw for 1,330 yards, 16 touchdowns and six picks in nine game for Tishomingo. But the Braves went 2-9 in Class 4A, winless in the division. Scouts are watching that.
Moving to 6A
He’s now quarterbacking 6A Florence, which went 9-4 last season, losing by a point in the third round of the playoffs to eventual champion and nationally-ranked Hoover. The Falcons finished the season ranked No. 14 in the state by MaxPreps.
Hawkins takes over for Ole Miss signee Kendrick Doss. His new team features two major Division I defenders in safety Dee Smith and Alabama linebacker commit Keaton Anderson.
“The competition is a lot better, which I enjoy it,” Hawkins said, “just because of the simple fact the college coaches like it. And the atmosphere is just so much better.”
So more eyes will be on Hawkins. He says his offseason focus has been to get faster and to improve his mechanics. Thursday, he looked the part, placing the ball in the right spots and making good decisions.
His decision to transfer has been good for him and for Florence. Falcons coach J.B. Wallace said he needs to fix some little things, mechanically and reading progression.
“That’s coming along fine,” Wallace said. “He brings athleticism. He can run it and throw it, very smart.”
Florence opens its season Aug. 22 at Shades Valley in Birmingham. The Falcons will entertain Starkville on Sept. 19.
BY BRANDON SPECK