Louisville's star running back Javian Hawkins opts out of season to prepare for NFL Draft
Louisville's star running back Javian Hawkins has decided to opt out of the rest of the 2020 season, he announced Monday morning.
Hawkins, a native of Titusville, Florida, will finish the fall semester at Louisville and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, he said.
"We appreciate Hawkins and everything he’s done for us since he’s been here. He’s had a heck of a run," Scott Satterfield said. "He’s had a great career here in a short period of time. Wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."
In the last two seasons, Hawkins has established himself as one of the best running backs in the country. Jumping onto the season as a redshirt freshman last season, Hawkins received All-ACC honors after rushing for 1,525 yards and nine touchdowns.
He was off to a strong start this season before not playing against Virginia. He tallied 822 yards and seven touchdowns.
Louisville prepared to play without Hawkins against Virginia for much of the week because he was in isolation after one of his roommates tested positive for COVID-19, Satterfield said.
There were talks about Hawkins opting out late last week, but he hadn't decided until Monday, Satterfield said.
"He came in this week to talk about it and he wasn’t fully decided on what he wanted to do. I think it hit home when one of his roommates tested positive," Satterfield said. "He has a dream that he wants to go tackle that. Obviously for us, selfishly, we’d love to have him."
Hawkins made a name for himself as one of the most explosive running backs not only in the country but in Louisville history. Despite playing in just 23 games, the redshirt sophomore ends his Louisville career 10th in rushing yards with 2,355 and is third on the single-season rushing list after his stellar redshirt freshman season. The only person who has rushed for more yards in a single season was Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who ran for 1,571 yards in 2016 and 1,601 in 2017.
Hawkins is also fifth in Louisville history with 5.9 yards per carry in his career. Known for his explosiveness at Louisville, he was always one of the best running backs in the country for big runs. This season, he led the country in runs of 70 yards or more, with three. No other player in the country had more than one.
How does he translate to the NFL? Athletic NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler said in the summer he gave Hawkins a mid-round NFL grade. After watching some two tapes of him on Monday, he didn't change his mind on that.
Known for his ability to break big runs, but also break tackles, Hawkins has a lot to like, but there are still some questions, Brugler said.
"Love his lower body burst and slippery feet to bounce laterally and make it difficult on defenders to square him up. He runs like a pinball, keeping his momentum at contact, although he doesn't have the body power to consistently break NFL tackles," Brugler told The Courier Journal. "Didn't have any drops on the tapes I watched and can be a threat in the screen game. He leaves his feet as a blocker, but might be limited in pass pro (protection). Needs to take better care of the football."
Hawkins did not lose a fumble last year but lost one this year against Georgia Tech.
With Hawkins gone, the running back spot is up for grabs at Louisville. Hassan Hall will return, after missing three straight games, and take the starting spot. Maurice Burkely started on Saturday and tallied 44 yards against the Cavaliers, but redshirt freshman Jalen Mitchell played and tallied 76 yards, including a 50-yard run on his first carry of the game.
Louisville will play Syracuse at 7 p.m. Friday.
Tutu Atwell update
Atwell was the other big name left off the field in Saturday's loss to Virginia. The standout slot receiver has an injury that Satterfield would not disclose and is listed as questionable for Friday's game against Syracuse.
The Miami native has tallied 528 receiving yards and five touchdowns this season and Satterfield said it will be close to see if he can play on Friday.
"No specifics. Should know more this week I think he’ll be really close to be able to come back. The negative is that it’s a short week," Satterfield said.
Satterfield stopped all rumors of Atwell wanting to opt out, like Hawkins. Satterfield said he and Atwell have not had a discussion about opting out this season.