The walk back to the visitors locker room was a somber one for Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) on Friday night following a season-ending loss to fellow USC commit Su’a Cravens (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta). The four-star cornerback buried his face in the shoulder of an assistant coach and hugged a few teammates before disappearing into a crowd gathered outside the exit.
Hawkins emerged from the locker room 10 minutes later decked out in his Trojans gear. He posed for photos with Cravens and fellow corner commit Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy). Hawkins smiled, but it was difficult for him to do so.
“Knowing that my high school career is over is real tough,” Hawkins said. “I love playing football. I know it’s not over. I know I’m going to USC and I’ve got some all-star games left, but it’s just tough knowing I won’t be with my team anymore.”
Hawkins had 40 receiving yards, three tackles and two pass breakups in a 34-0 loss to Vista Murrieta in the CIF Southern Section Inland Division semifinal. Rancho Cucamonga, which trailed by a slim 7-0 margin at halftime, fell two wins short of winning a divisional title.
“We broke down as a team,” Hawkins said. “We had them against the ropes. I thought I caught an interception in the back of the end zone, but they called it out and Vista Murrieta scored on the next play. It’s hard knowing that they got the breaks that they got. They’re a good team. Hopefully they win the championship. I’ll be rooting for Su’a.”
Next up for Hawkins -- an early enrollee who will be graduating in December -- is the U.S. Army All-American Game in early January. He will be joined in San Antonio, Texas, by high school teammate Tahaan Goodman, a four-star safety who has narrowed his list of schools to UCLA, USC and LSU, and Rancho Cucamonga coach Nick Baiz.
“It’s a game I’ve always wanted to be in since I was a little kid watching them on television,” Hawkins said. “It’s big. I’ll be playing in that with both Su’a and Jalen. Jalen is going to be on the other team, so we’re going to kill him before we both get to USC. It’s an honor, though, because a lot of USC commits will be there. I would just like to get more chemistry with them before we play at USC.”
Ramsey stayed with Hawkins over the weekend as he visited for the Notre Dame-USC game at the Coliseum. The two have established a strong bond since the summer.
“Jalen is one of my favorite people in our class,” Hawkins said. “We’ve been talking ever since we were in Atlanta for a camp. We’re very close. We talk all the time. I’m a little down right now, but hopefully I can take him to a party or something.”
Class of 2014 commit captures crown
The season didn’t start out exactly how Class of 2014 offensive lineman Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) had imagined. The USC commit had grand expectations, but things appeared bleak at the start.
Hamilton, which last year suffered its lone loss in the state title game, dropped the first two contests this season, including one against Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame at the Shamrock Classic in Ireland. The first loss came against Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe, 17-14, on Aug. 24, but the Huskies didn’t panic.
Tucker and Hamilton got redemption Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium, beating Mountain Pointe, 31-16, to claim the AIA Division I championship.
“My team and I showed up to play,” said Tucker, who spearheaded an offensive line that paved the way for 226 rushing yards. “I was very thankful it ended the way it did this Thanksgiving weekend.”
East Coast quarterback impressed
Class of 2014 quarterback Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) unofficially visited Los Angeles this weekend and attended the Notre Dame game at the Coliseum. Speight returned home Monday night after training with renowned quarterbacks coach Steve Clarkson in Southern California.
"I love it out here," Speight said. "I'll be back out here over Christmas break to work out with coach Clarkson. ... On Saturday I spoke to (USC quarterbacks) coach Clay Helton for like 30 minutes before the game, then about 15 minutes in the locker room after."
The Trojans have extended a scholarship offer to only one 2014 signal-caller: Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto), who took an unofficial visit to USC in early November for the Oregon game. Speight is hopeful that a strong offseason will merit a long look from the USC coaches.