ANN ARBOR, Mich — Flying under the radar is one thing — being completely off the radar is another.
While that could be said of pretty much all of Michigan’s safeties, those who do get attention are the starters — Tyree Kinnel and Josh Metellus — and even Jaylen Kelly-Powell gets some hype as Michigan’s Swiss Army Knife.
But what about Brad Hawkins, who also shares kickoff duty with fellow second-year standout Ambry Thomas?
Hawkins was originally committed to the 2016 class as a wide receiver, but reclassified to 2017, and came aboard as a defensive player.
He spent the majority of 2017 working at the VIPER position. However, this offseason, the coaching staff moved him back to safety — where he started last offseason — and the results have been through the roof.
His position coach, Chris Partridge, absolutely raved about the job he’s done through a few weeks of fall camp.
“Incredible – what a camp he’s had,” Partridge said. “He’s really, really stepped up and done some things and gotten – he’s gone above expectations for me. I think he’s a guy that, another guy that has a bright future, that loves playing the game and is really in-tuned and is really good. You’ll see him on the field for sure.”
Of course, Partridge has a strong level of familiarity with Hawkins. While the third-year on-field coach for the Wolverines is now working with the safeties, he coached the linebackers the past two seasons. Which means he oversaw Hawkins at the VIPER position.
Asked if it’s helped Hawkins by having that consistency at the coaching position, Partridge admits that he does think it’s been a boon for the second-year player. Plus, he hasn’t just coached him at linebacker or now with safeties — he also oversees his production on special teams.
Given his knowledge and experience with Hawkins, Partridge feels like he knows what to do to help bring the best player out of him.
“I really know him and what buttons to push for him and things like that,” Partridge said. “I know what he needs and doesn’t need. I think so, for me, it’s better. I’d think he’d probably admit that continuity is helping him. He’s a great kid and really wants to be great. He’s been really good. Really good on special teams, too.”