Scattered across Kris Hawkins arms are residual scratches from a Friday night’s worth of work. More so, they’re marks indicating a defender or two’s struggle to grasp and latch on to the area’s leading rusher.
And judging by the Jefferson County High School senior’s stats from this fall, he has won those battles way more than he’s lost.
Hawkins has taken the area by storm in 2018. Injuries curtailed his productivity as both a sophomore and a junior and left no foreshadow of the 2018 season to come.
But here he is, through seven games, with what looks to be an insurmountable lead in rushing yards. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Hawkins has amassed 1,468 yards and 18 touchdowns. Grainger’s Preston Owens ranks second in the area with 929 yards rushing.
Hawkins said it’s all just a matter of finally being healthy and properly trained. He averages 8.8 yards per carry and 209.7 yards per game.
“I was in the weight room all offseason. I conditioned. I did ladder work,” he said Monday, when he was honored as the Knoxville Quarterback Club Week 7 Offensive Player of the Week for his 331-yard, five-TD rushing performance.
“I was hurt last year. I had to work and get back and show what I’m capable of. I had a mid-foot sprain (last season). I continued to play on it, but it made it worse.”
(Editor’s Note: Below is the highlight reel of Hawkins’ 331-yard, five-TD performance last week).
Now, Hawkins is the one dishing out the pain. Only Bearden has limited him to fewer than 100 yards on the ground.
Jefferson County head coach Spencer Riley took over prior to Hawkins’ sophomore season and said Monday that he knew Hawkins could assume the spotlight if healthy, adding that he fits perfectly into the Patriots’ physical ground-bound brand of offense.
“People look at Kris, and they don’t think he’s a very physical kid,” said Riley. “Because he’s not a huge kid. But he’s the heaviest squatter we have on our football team. Pound for pound, he’s the strongest kid we have.
“I give him all the credit for that. He’s the one who’s put in all the work.”
Carson-Newman and Mars Hill are some of the college football programs who were early to jump in the mix and show interest for Hawkins’ services after high school.
But not having much junior-season film has stunted Hawkins’ recruitment.
Riley hopes this season will pick up the slack in a hurry.
“We’re hoping people take notice. Whoever gets him will get a steal — not only as a football player but as a great character that I love and will do anything in the world for,” Riley said.
“He’s an all-purpose back. He can block, run and catch. He does it all for us. He doesn’t come off the field for us. He does a great job in protection. He does a great job running routes. And he never wants any credit.”