One-on-One with: Tanner Hawkinson

Sept. 9, 2010

Visit the KU Football blog:

Kansas football will take on No. 15 Georgia Tech Saturday at Memorial Stadium in a critical game for the Jayhawks. KU is looking to get back on track after an opening day loss to North Dakota State. One area the Jayhawks are looking to for leadership is on the offensive line.

Sophomore offensive tackle Tanner Hawkinson, while being the youngest starter of the group, was named a Freshman All-American last season and will be expected to carry more weight this year. What made Hawkinson’s accolades most impressive last season was the fact that he changed positions twice before moving to the offensive line prior to the 2009 season. caught up with the tackle following practice this week.

On changing positions-

“It was a couple weeks before my first spring ball, which would have been in 2009, and at the time I was at defensive line and coach Joe Vaughn (one of the strength coaches for the offensive line) had me going through some offensive line drills down in the weight room. (Former offensive line) coach (John) Reagan called me into his office and I talked to him a bit, they said they wanted to move me to offensive tackle and I went and talked to (former head coach Mark) Mangino about it. I asked for a few days to think it over because I had already switched one position (from tight end to defensive line) and switching another one would be kind of tough again, but I thought about it and I didn’t really think there would be too much of a problem with it. (The coaches said) there was some good opportunity to play. That’s when I decided to make the move.”

On the change in mentality from defense to offense:

“It was a little different mentality just because I had never played that position before, but I know that I had some idea of the offense that we were running because I played a little tight end my first season here. I knew some of the terminology. Some of the plays and some of the footwork transitions over from tight end to offensive line, so that helped a little bit.”

On putting on weight to play offensive line:

“I had to gain quite a bit of weight. I think I came in my freshman year at about 240-245 and now I’m up to about 295, so it’s a little over 50 pounds, but it came on a little easier than I thought.”

On the process of gaining the weight:

“(It happened by) just eating a lot. I came in drinking specially-made protein shakes and eating some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I also made a lot of late night fast food runs, so it came on sort of easily, I guess.”

On accolades from last season:

“I was really surprised by all that, I never could have envisioned any of that stuff happening. I have to thank a lot of my teammates for helping me with the transition, all the guys that were on the (offensive) line last year with me (Jeremiah) Hatch, (Sal) Capra, (Brad) Thorson, (Jeff) Spikes, and Trevor (Marongelli), they really helped me a lot. They’re a bunch of easy guys to play with. They keep you up all the time and really helped a lot with that.”

On this year’s team and goals:
“We definitely want to improve off of last year. We got some goals; we want to try to win the Big 12 North obviously and get to the Big 12 championship. Hopefully we just keep improving every week, and know that we can be the best that we can be. We want go out there and have fun.”