FORT WORTH, Texas – Tanner Hawkinson wasn't in Kansas anymore.
Hawkinson, arguably the No. 2 player in the Sunflower State behind stud linebacker Arthur Brown, was at the Fort Worth NIKE Training Camp Saturday at Texas Christian University, and he proved that he's not just somebody that can excel when playing against the top players in his own backyard. Hawkinson of McPherson, Kan., measured in at 6-foot-5 ½ and 230 pounds and was easily one of the top tight ends at the camp.
In fact, he might have been the camp's best at the position.
"I felt throughout the day I did pretty well," Hawkinson said. "I didn't have too many dropped balls out there, so it was pretty solid. I didn't do as well as I wanted in the one-on-ones, but it was pretty good still. Competing with some of the best guys in Texas, you definitely learn how to get faster and stronger. There are some good athletes out here. I think I held my own. I tried to represent Kansas."
Consider it represented.
Hawkinson is one of the most heavily recruited players in the Midlands Region with offers from Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Colorado State. With coaches from both K-State and KU spending some time watching him in drills on Saturday, he's already taken unofficial visits to Lawrence and Manhattan. But over the past few weeks, it's become clearer and clearer the Jayhawks hold a pretty commanding lead.
When asked if he was a KU lock, Hawkinson didn't duck the question like many recruits do, but he also didn't say he was ready to pull the trigger for the Jayhawks.
"I'm very high on Kansas at this point just because I kind of grew up a fan of them," he said. "Obviously they're low on tight ends and I can come in and play early. But that's also why I came to this, so I can see if I can get some more attention and see if there are some schools that might interest me and might want to start recruiting me."
Do the Wildcats, or even the Cowboys or Rams have a shot in this battle?
"Yeah, (K-State) interests me a little bit," he said. "But they just got a tight end that just committed to them from down in Oklahoma. So, I'm still just going to try to keep my options open until the summer and hopefully make a decision then. I've been in contact with Oklahoma State, but I haven't really haven't looked into it as much as KU and K-State. Colorado State just offered me a couple of weeks ago. I haven't talked to those coaches yet too much."
When he does finally get ready to make a decision, Hawkinson said he's got a few things in mind for the perfect school.
"Definitely I'd like to look the location, the town life and the fan support and see how they support the team," he said. "The opportunity to play early is going to be important and how well I get along with the coaches."
Regardless which ever school gets his pledge, it's going to get a very talented prospect. Saturday's camp definitely helped cement his position as one of the Sunflower State's best and after doing damage against some of the top players in Texas, it's officially time to tab him as one of the Heartland's best tight end prospects.
"I was getting ready and gearing up for this camp," he said. "I'm glad I showed all those people what I've got."