Hawkins muscling up and stepping in

Chris Hawkins / USA Today Sports

USC second year player Chris Hawkins is making the most of his opportunity practicing as a first team cornerback. Can the redshirt freshman gain enough confidence to keep the job permanently?

USC cornerback Chris Hawkins discusses his role on the Trojans defense and the transition to playing for coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff…

USC redshirt freshman Chris Hawkins has made his way onto the first team defense through the Trojans first two weeks of spring practices.

The cornerback, who spent his first year at USC on the sideline, is playing opposite of returning starter Kevon Seymour as Josh Shaw remains sidelined nursing a stress fracture in his foot.

Hawkins tells Scout he's making the most of his opportunity step in during Shaw's absence.

USC coach Steve Sarkisian is taking notice of Hawkins' progression.

"I think he's matured physically," Sarkisian explained. "His body has really changed. Chris, what I notice out here is that he has a really high football IQ. He is very smart, he gets the game, he anticipates things and then he reacts. He trusts what he sees."

Hawkins was a four-star recruit in the Trojans 2013 recruiting class.

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