GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|3*, #32 WLB
||3*, #61 OLB
||78, #37 OLB
Though Hawthorne is literally OMG shirtless above, he is not metaphorically OMG shirtless. Everyone’s like “eh… meh.” This is because they see him as a project. He’s not that tall and not that big at the moment; to perform in college he’ll have to bulk up considerably. The two-sentence review:
Brandon Hawthorne -- Another small but athletic linebacker prospect, Hawthorne's body type will enable him to add some weight pretty easily. … He covers ground in a hurry at linebacker and looked good in drills.
STRENGTHS: Speedy outside linebacker has good speed to the ball. He can rush the passer, using his quickness and athleticism.
WEAKNESSES: Hawthorne is undersized and needs development in the weight room. Can get lost sometimes at the point of attack.
And so does ESPN, although they’re more enthusiastic($):
Hawthorne possesses all the physical tools for a college program to mold into a disruptive perimeter player at the next level if they are patient with his development. He can run, close, and hit and has incredible upside. Tall, rangy frame with a very long wingspan; should play at close to 225-pounds at next level while retaining his good play speed and athleticism.
After some more of the usual about needing to add strength and bulk, they finish with a flourish: “Hawthorne is greatly underrated and is a definite late bloomer with a ton of natural gifts to develop at the next level.” Calling someone “underrated” when you’re doing the rating seems odd, but whatever. Maybe they’re talking about Scout and Rivals.
Pahokee QB and Gator WR commit Nu’Keese Richardson—who plans to visit M with Hawthorne and Smith on Hawthorne:
"I've never seen anyone hit like Hawthorne, even [2008 Florida recruit] Janoris [Jenkins]," Richardson said. "Brandin Hawthorne will make you think twice about coming his way."
Cornerback Willie Hickman:
''Brandin's a monster,'' Hickman said. ``He goes 100 percent -- the whole play, the whole game -- he's just a monster. It's good to have him on your team. You don't have to sit around and wait for somebody else to make the play, because he's going to make the play.''
Aaand he’s got something in common with Charlie Weis:
Hawthorne is a 6-foot-0, 185-pounder, who goes by the nickname “The Animal” because of the tenacity he plays with.
Many people question his size, but he has a message for the doubters:
“Don’t let size fool you,” Hawthorne said. “There’s a grown man inside me.”
Smith’s decision came down to Louisville and Michigan; he also had offers from South Florida, Tennessee, Kansas State, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. A respectable set.
Lot of TFLs:
Hawthorne, a linebacker, recorded 80 tackles last year, including 31 for a loss.
FAKE 40 TIME
Fake! Fake! Fa—
Hawthorne is 6-2 and 200 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds.
Actually, that seems almost feasible. In fact, we’ve got an electronic time from a Scout camp. Survey says:
At 6-feet and 185 now, he ran a 4.72/40 and jumped 36 inches.
That was in April; more recent reports have him around 200 or even higher.
Nothing out there, unfortunately.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Despite the fact he’ll enroll early, Hawthorne seems like a holy lock for a redshirt what with the whole add-bulk-add-bulk-add-bulk trifecta from the scouting services. Also, GBMW notes that he plays a standup end position at Pahokee and probably has little idea what to do in pass coverage. Past that it’s a crapshoot. He’s rated where he is for a reason, but that reason is “obvious project with major upside” instead of “meh,” so there’s reason to hope he blows up under the tutelage of the Great and Holy Barwis.
Possibly off base socioeconomic thingy: Pahokee is poor and the kids from it are tough guys who play football as a way to get out, so he might have a better shot of reaching that ceiling than your average bear.
One other note: though Hawthorne may be undersized in the realm of traditional run-stuffing linebacker sorts, one way in which teams are defending the spread is by stockpiling these OLB/S hybrids. Hawthorne sounds like that sort of player.
I don’t want to see Hawthorne on the field for at least two years, but I think he’s got a better shot at being a major contributor than your run-of-the-mill three star.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With the loss of OLBs Marcus Witherspoon and Taylor Hill the position went from a minor need to a major one; Hawthorne helps mitigate that. Safety commits Isaiah Bell and Mike Jones are both reputed to be future linebackers, too. Three is probably enough; I think they’re done unless Jelani Jenkins wants to sign up. They might take another OLB sort if they think one of the safeties can stick in the secondary.
Michigan is still recruiting a couple of inside linebackers: NC LB Hawatha Bell has M in his top four and plans a visit, and Michigan just shot an offer out to FL LB Mike Marry.
Both Hawthorne and teammate Vincent Smith plan on taking visits elsewhere, something the staff is apparently aware of:
"Michigan isn't worried about us visiting other schools, they just said to keep Michigan No. 1," Smith said.