Season recap: Travis Hawkins
Travis Hawkins' future at Maryland will be as a cornerback.
But during his senior season at Quince Orchard High School in Montgomery Co., the Terps commitment had plenty of opportunities to make an impact on offense.
“Offensively, we tried to use him in a variety of different roles,” QO coach Dave Mencarini said. “We really needed him on defense and tried to make that his primary focus, but when you’ve got a great talent like that [you have to use him on offense, too]. He played quarterback, running back, receiver. In the seventh game of the year, our quarterback broke his collarbone and Travis stepped in. Then he got injured with a high ankle sprain. In the 10th game of the year, he [came back] and set a record for total yards in a game. ... Every time he touched the ball, he made a big play.”
Hawkins, 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, still performed well as a defensive back, Mencarini said. He just didn’t see many opportunities to make plays at cornerback.
“Because he’s such a great athlete and player, not a lot of action went his way," Mencarini said. "Statistically you’d look at his numbers and say, ‘this kid didn’t have a good senior year.’ But the reality is that our other corner was team MVP. Our little 5-9 MVP on the other side [made a lot of plays] because they never threw [Hawkins’] way. Teams would try to test him, but he kind of shut down a half of the field, which is nice.”
Hawkins recorded 19 tackles and one interception on the year. According to The Washington Post, he also accounted for nine touchdowns on offense (four passing, four receptions, one rushing). QO finished the season 10-2, falling to Sherwood in the 4A West finals.
Hawkins committed to the Terps in October, announcing his decision at a news conference at Quince Orchard. But between then and now, there were some tenuous moments where Hawkins faced slight doubts about his commitment.
After returning from the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando (and witnessing other top recruits go back-and-forth with their decisions), Hawkins thought about taking a couple official visits, with West Virginia and Florida mentioned frequently as potential destinations.
But in the end, Hawkins decided against taking other trips. Mencarini said location played a role, as did UM’s pitch in billing Hawkins as a headliner in its class.
“I think that’s kind of how Maryland recruited him,” Mencarini said. “‘Hey, we’ve had national recruits before. We had Kenny Tate, who’s off to a great career.’ They see Travis very similar to that. I think he handled it well, but any 17-year old kid being courted by the top programs in the country goes through a little bit [of uncertainty], and I think that’s what you saw the last couple of weeks. I think it just showed that the kid is human. Ultimately, that didn’t happen. He kind of thought about what’s important to him. The process is tough and it wears on kids. It’s not easy, but I think in the end, he handled it fairly well, all things considered.”
Mencarini brought Hawkins up to the QO varsity as a freshman. He remained there for the next three years. While Mencarini has sent many players to Division I schools during his tenure at Quince Orchard, Hawkins stands out.
“He’s the most explosive player that I’ve ever coached, and the most explosive player I’ve ever seen in my career as a coach,” Mencarini said. “I think the thing that stands out about his career is his knack for making big plays on offense, defense and special teams. Instincts are something you really can’t teach or coach, so that gives him a chance to have a great college career.
“So he’s a great kid. To be honest with you, he’s had to overcome a lot of things on and off the field. For him to be in this position is a credit to his maturity. There’s good and bad days with any kid, but he’s really handled the last four years of his life with a lot of class and dignity.”