Aeneas Hawkins officially signed his letter of intent Wednesday at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. But the milestone event had significance in Johnstown.
Hawkins’ signature finalized his spot in Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class under coach James Franklin. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive tackle is a four-star recruit with plenty of local ties.
His father, Artrell Hawkins Jr., and uncle Andrew Hawkins are Johnstown natives who graduated from Bishop McCort High School before enjoying successful major college and National Football League careers.
Aeneas’ cousin Shamar Jones of Greater Johnstown High School signed his letter to play at Indiana University on Wednesday morning. The cousins will compete in the Big Ten Conference.
“It’s definitely exciting to actually sign the letter and make things official,” Aeneas Hawkins said during a Wednesday telephone interview. “Recruiting has been crazy. Just to know your spot is saved, that you have a home, it makes your day a lot easier and stress free. You can get back to work.”
Playing at nationally renown Archbishop Moeller, Hawkins was rated at No. 30 among defensive tackles nationally and was the 16th-ranked recruit in Ohio.
His father played six of his nine NFL seasons at defensive back with the Cincinnati Bengals. Andrew Hawkins split his six NFL seasons with three years apiece in Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Their guidance was instrumental in Aeneas’ navigating the high-pressure recruiting trail.
“Without them initially in my ear helping to guide me through the process, I probably would be a mess,” Aeneas Hawkins said. “A lot is thrown at you. Their guidance helps you to know what is important and what is not important in recruiting.”
The future Nittany Lion also enjoyed from afar Jones’ big day.
“Having my cousin Shamar play in the same conference is a cool experience,” he said.
“With college football in Western Pennsylvania, my ties to Johnstown and my family, watching my granddad (Artrell Hawkins Sr.) and dad, my uncle Andrew, (Johnstown’s) Geroy (Simon) and Carlton (Haselrig), it’s special,” Hawkins said.
Simon, a Canadian Football League hall of famer, and Haselrig, a former Pro Bowl offensive lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers, also are relatives.
Aeneas believes Penn State will provide a foundation for his own career.
“Coach Franklin does a great job. He has so much energy,” Hawkins said. “It’s a special opportunity to play the Ohio States and Michigans year in and year out.
“With Ohio State, you are competing against guys I know and have been around in Ohio, which is special.”
Hawkins appreciates the direction an already surging Penn State program is headed.
“They’re playing some of their best ball they’ve played ever,” Hawkins said. “There are a lot of goals that are in reach for Penn State that haven’t happened yet.”
His father provided some sound advice to cap the recruiting season.
“The message he’s given me throughout my whole recruitment is it’s about going out and doing it,” Aeneas Hawkins said. “Now, recruiting is over. It’s about going out and doing it.”