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Penn State makes top-10 CB Nyquee Hawkins feel welcome
New Jersey prospect Nyquee Hawkins has spent the early stages of his prep career in a steadily expanding spotlight. The 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback began collecting college scholarship offers before his sophomore season at Orange High School.
Penn State pounced early, offering Hawkins last August. He’s never wavered in reciprocating interest from the Nittany Lions.
“I’ve been going up to Penn State since eighth grade,” he said. “I just keep going back.”
According to his 247Sports timeline, Hawkins visited campus 12 times during the past 23 months.
— Quee_ 🏴 (@NyqueeH) February 26, 2017
Coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions staff have made a strong impression.
“It’s like family up there with the coaches,” he said. “They always keep it real with me, instead of only telling me things I want to hear. It’s all honesty up there, and that’s what I want.”
Penn State is among nearly 20 universities that have entered the hunt for Hawkins, who is listed No. 8 among cornerback recruits in 247Sports’ 2019 rankings.
Other Big Ten offers include Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and nearby Rutgers. He has added Boston College, Syracuse, Temple and Virginia to the collection since the start of April.
Hawkins journeyed across the country this past weekend, spending time at Stanford. The Cardinal didn’t offer on campus but it was an eye-opening experience and he returned just in time for the Under Armour camp series’ New Jersey regional Sunday.
Despite logging only an hour of sleep the night before, Hawkins performed well enough to earn an invitation to Under Armour’s Future 50 event this winter in Orlando, Fla. The underclassmen showcase coincides with Under Armour All-America Game festivities, which will feature members of the 2018 class.
“It’s a chance to work against the best and shows that hard work does pay off,” he said.
Nittany Lions pledge Justin Shorter also attended the camp Sunday, earning an invitation to the All-America Game. The 4-star receiver occasionally competed against Hawkins, and these matchups may ultimately be a sign of things to come at future practices in State College.
“He’s big and quick off the line, which is a great combination,” Hawkins said. “His acceleration speed is crazy. Justin gets after it and just keeps getting quicker as he goes deeper in routes. It was cool going against him because a player like him makes you better.”
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) May 21, 2017
Considered the No. 4 overall 2019 prospect in New Jersey, per composite rankings, he brings a dynamic skill set to the field. Hawkins is steady in pass coverage while establishing himself as an aggressive playmaker.
“I bring athleticism and quickness to the position, and I like to hit a lot,” he said. “I’ll give my body up to make the play.”
Hawkins recorded 42 tackles, 21 receptions and a pick-six last season, according to NJ.com. Abundant offers and all-star accolades only further enhance his passion for the sport.
“I want to be the best,” Hawkins said. “I don’t see myself as any other cornerback. Every day, I’m getting after it. There’s no rest because I don’t like to feel like anyone else is working harder than me.”
Triple Jump over 31 feet😱 pic.twitter.com/uSqTEphU6p
— Quee_ 🏴 (@NyqueeH) March 1, 2017
Ohio State is another program that warrants attention in this recruitment. Though the Buckeyes haven’t offered yet, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano visited Orange High earlier this month, according to Hawkins.
Along with Penn State, he mentioned Maryland and Virginia Tech as programs that have built a strong rapport in this process. Hawkins plans to visit those three schools this summer, along with a potential stop at North Carolina State.
He admits the Nittany Lions carry an edge in relationship-building as a result of his frequent trips. Hawkins aims to announce a college commitment at the conclusion of this upcoming season, and his outlook indicates Penn State is in excellent shape to land that pledge.
“Schools that saw the talent in me early and didn’t wait for everyone else to offer are definitely going to be in my top choices,” he said.
Hawkins is projected to sign with Penn State by 100 percent of experts’ predictions in the 247Sports crystal ball.
4-star DT Tyler Friday places Penn State among top schools
The Nittany Lions landed on a favorites list for the fourth time since Sunday. Each of these declarations have come courtesy of a 4-star defensive tackle, and Tyler Friday became the latest Wednesday night:
Updated TOP 15 (No order ‼️) pic.twitter.com/hyrCLCLa6w
— Big Smooth (@almighty_ty5) May 25, 2017
A 6-3, 263-pound junior at Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.), Friday put Penn State on a list that also features Big Ten foes Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Rutgers. It’s no surprise considering the conversation he shared with Land of 10 on April 30 at The Opening’s New Jersey regional.
“I just loved the atmosphere [in State College],” he said. “It’s a family atmosphere and they have a lot of Jersey guys as well, so they recruit hard in Jersey. For me, that’s big. Overall, it was a great experience and I love the staff there as well.”
As we detailed in our Tuesday notebook, the Nittany Lions also appeared on “top” lists of three other 4-star defensive tackles early this week. Keondre Coburn, Aeneas Hawkins and Trevor Trout each kept Penn State in the picture while trimming down collegiate options.
Friday, considered the nation’s No. 4 prospect at the position and No. 56 overall recruit in 2018 composite rankings, carries the most clout among this quartet. A versatile force along the defensive front, he warrants interest at both the 3-technique and 5-technique.
“I have the strength to play inside and the speed to play outside,” he said.
Friday is friendly with fellow New Jersey defensive lineman Corey Bolds, a 2017 Penn State signee. He told Land of 10 the Nittany Lions can expect another visit from him “whenever I have a free moment.”