We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Cal football safety Jaylinn Hawkins to talk about his favorite college memories and the 2020 NFL Draft.
Hawkins shined during his time at Cal starting the last three seasons at safety after transitioning away from the cornerback role he was initially recruited to play.
And in those three seasons, he established himself as a physical, ball-hawking defensive back patrolling the middle of Cal’s defense.
Of course, his incredible three-interception performance in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl is still likely fresh in the minds of many fans, but he might be remembered most for his physicality and attitude on defense.
Despite this, Hawkins has been somewhat overshadowed in the pre-draft process by his defensive teammates in Ashtyn Davis and Evan Weaver. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a safety in this draft who plays with as much tenacity as Hawkins.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Hawkins about his favorite memories at Cal and what he’s doing to prepare for the upcoming draft.
Here are the results of our discussion.
Bay Area and Cal Memories
JF: “You’re originally from Southern California, you went to high school at Buena Park. Now having played in the Bay Area for five years, are there any noticeable differences between the two? And which do you prefer?”
JH: “I was born in Southern California so of course I’m going to rep SoCal all day, but I’d say the Bay Area is like my second home. It’s very, very different, but very, very cool. I like the vibe, I like how people are, the weather’s beautiful, just everything is beautiful. But of course Southern Cal is better, it’s my home even though the Bay is my second home. I’ve had a great experience playing up there and living up there is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I don’t know about living there, but it’s for sure a place I want to go back to.”
JF: “Don’t worry, I’m not going to blame you for repping where you’re from. Now, you played at Cal for all four years — are there any moments that stand out from your time at Cal? Any favorite memories?”
JH: “I ain’t going to lie, my favorite moment was everything. But my two favorite game memories, games that we won, were USC and Stanford. Those were just great games and great experiences. The Stanford win really is a memory that will last a lifetime.
JF: “Cal was on a nine-year losing streak against Stanford, right?”
JH: “Yeah man, a nine-year losing streak.”
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2020 NFL Draft Preparation
JF: “So you were able to participate in the NFL Combine earlier this year. What was the whole Combine experience like for you? And what was the weirdest question you got from teams? Of course, you don’t have to name any names.”
JH: “Honestly man I’ve got a clean track record, I don’t get in trouble, I’m not that kind of guy. I didn’t really get asked too many weird questions. But the weirdest question I got was ‘have you been arrested?’ And I don’t really have any off-field issues or anything like that. So I don’t really have any weird questions, that would probably the weirdest one.”
JF: “Alright so pretty straight-forward stuff. What was it like being at the Combine?”
JH: “Man it was a blessing. It was a great experience being around some NFL legends and just being in that whole atmosphere. I was roommates with my boy Ashtyn [Davis] and going out and being able to perform in Lucas Oil Stadium was amazing. I didn’t know it was that big! The whole event was just a great experience. It’s stuff that you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. I soaked it all in and lived in the moment while I was there.”
JF: “Absolutely man, I could only imagine what that was like. So from your Pro Day being canceled to having to deal with virtual visits with NFL teams, what’s your draft preparation process been like over the past couple of months?”
JH: “It’s been kind of all over the place, I’ve had to adjust on the fly. I was training for the Pro Day and then it got shut down. I got a facility and a field I’ve been training at — got to stay consistent with that. I’ve been studying the game and talking to a lot of teams. But yeah just mostly having to adjust on the fly with all of this coronavrius stuff. It’s just how people are adjusting with their normal day-to-day. Some people can’t work so they have to adjust and work at home, we’re all doing the same thing. But I can’t stop my grind, it hasn’t stopped me from getting to where I want to be.”
JF: “It’s definitely been a unique process for everyone involved, that’s for sure.”
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JF: “Is there any player, in particular, that you model your game after?”
JH: “I would say, Sean Taylor, RIP. After that, I’d say Tyrann Mathieu. I do model my game after him in some aspects, but he’s a shorter guy with a different body type. Despite that though he’s a great player with great instincts, he’s smart. And also I’ve been watching Eddie Jackson too, he’s a great player.”
JF: “Yeah those are definitely three good picks. I think you definitely have the physicality of Sean Taylor and Tyrann Mathieu, I could definitely see that. Lastly, our site covers both the 49ers and Raiders, even though the latter’s no longer technically in the Bay Area. I know you can’t tell us if you’ve had any discussion with those teams, but how cool would it be to continue your football career in the Bay Area with the 49ers or with a longtime Bay Area team in the Raiders?”
JH: “That would be a blessing. To go back in the Bay Area, a place that I’m familiar with, and play for Coach [Jon] Gruden or Coach [Kyle] Shanahan it would be a blessing. And I’d be in California still too so my family can come to all of my games. They’re both two great teams, the Raiders are up-and-coming and the 49ers, of course, are a great franchise and a great team. So honestly, that would be really sick and dope and that would be a huge blessing, not only for me but for my family.”
JF: “Well I could tell you, I’d definitely love to see you playing for either team. I appreciate you taking the time Jaylinn, it’s been a pleasure!”
JH: “And I appreciate you, man.”
Special thanks to my man Jaylinn Hawkins for taking the time to do this interview with us. On behalf of myself and all Cal football fans out there, we’ll definitely be pulling for you this week!