For senior offensive tackle Donald Hawkins, one word describes how this season is different from previous ones — confidence.
“Confidence [has clicked for me],” Hawkins said. “Everybody knows I could play ball, but they were just waiting to see my game elevate.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, 310-pound offensive lineman is a junior college transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College and officially enrolled at Texas in January 2012. But he was not always destined to be a Longhorn.
The Tunica, Miss. native committed to Oklahoma State University and became a Cowboy in August 2011. After an official visit to the 40 Acres and an unofficial visit to Auburn University, Hawkins changed his decision and became a Longhorn, citing the opportunity to play around great talent as his reason for decommitting from Oklahoma State and joining head coach Mack Brown’s squad.
Since then, Hawkins has started 14 games in a burnt orange uniform and has helped the offense reach marks it hasn’t in the past. The senior — majoring in education — has been a part of the two most productive offensive performances in Texas’ history, one being this season’s opener against New Mexico State where the Longhorns recorded 715 yards of total offense and the other being last season’s game against Ole Miss.
“I’m trying to move up every week,” Hawkins said. “So when you see me play like that [you’ll say], ‘Dang Donald Hawkins, he’s getting better. He elevated his game like he said he would.’”
Hawkins has done just that alongside senior offensive guard Trey Hopkins on the left side of the offensive front. Both men have learned to feed off each other as they both try and use the other to their advantage. In addition, both are competing for the best offensive lineman spot not only at Texas, but arguably in the Big 12.
“I think something’s gelling,” Hawkins said. “We got that chemistry together. When we’re rolling, we’re rolling. When Trey and I are next to each other, we roll.”
Hawkins, who aspires to be a coach once his playing career has come to an end, repeatedly used the phrase “proving himself,” specifically regarding the upcoming Red River Rivalry game, while he sat in front of reporters Monday afternoon.
Last season, he missed part of the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry game because of an ankle injury and had to watch Texas get embarrassed by the Sooners from the sideline for the last half of the game.
“For me, it’s a revenge game,” Hawkins said. “Last year I got hurt in the first half and couldn’t play the second half of the game, so I feel like there’s a lot to prove. That is, there’s a lot to prove for myself as a player and as a team.”