Today, we continue TechSideline’s Prospect Profile series with another highly-ranked prospect on Virginia Tech’s 2019 target board — defensive back Nyquee Hawkins.
Hawkins is a 6-foot, 180-pound prospect from Orange High School in Orange, N.J. Hawkins is listed as both a cornerback and a safety, depending on where you look. Here is how Hawkins is rated by the major recruiting networks…
Rivals: Four-star, No. 8 in New Jersey
247Sports: Three-star, No. 6 in New Jersey
ESPN: Four-star, No. 4 in New Jersey, No. 182 overall
ESPN clearly rates Hawkins the highest, while 247Sports views him as a talented yet lesser prospect. What we know for sure is that Virginia Tech holds Hawkins in high regard and has made him a priority early in the process. Let’s look at Hawkins as a player.
Immediately, when you first begin to watch Hawkins, you see a physical player. He is comfortable pressing receivers and flipping his hips to follow them downfield. Hawkins has little issue handling smaller receivers, often taking them out of the play right after the snap.
Hawkins has good ball skills, in that he’s very skilled at getting his hands on the ball. He might not come down with the interception, but he’s excellent at finding ways to deflect passes and to get in the way. If the catch is made, Hawkins uses sound technique when tackling and likes to lower the shoulder when he can. He isn’t a big player, but he punches above his weight in that category.
Hawkins’ versatility makes him a more intriguing recruit. He has experience lining up at cornerback and safety, and plays running back on offense. He’s physical enough as a tackler and good enough at reading throws to play safety, and he’s skilled enough in man coverage to hold up as a cornerback. Hawkins is fast, but doesn’t have the top-end speed that some prospects possess. His overall skillset makes him an option at several positions, with rover or nickelback more likely.
After watching him on film a bit, you see that Hawkins’ offer list backs up the tape. Hawkins currently holds 21 scholarship offers, mostly from Power 5 programs. Among them are Florida State, Michigan, NC State, North Carolina, Penn State and Wisconsin.
For now, the Hokies seem to have the edge. Hawkins has unofficially visited Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and has a familiarity with the coaching staff. He would be a welcomed addition to the Hokies’ 2019 class, and would likely be one of the headliners of the group come February.
Defensive back is a position that Virginia Tech overrecruited in the Class of 2018. The Hokies lost three starters from that group after the 2017 season, and their depth at the position was already thin. Tech doesn’t need to overrecruit again in the ’19 class, but whoever they do take at defensive back will still have a chance to play early in their career.