Artrell Hawkins Jr. and Andrew Hawkins

Both Artrell Hawkins Jr. and Andrew Hawkins could claim accomplished football careers had they just stopped with their exploits at Bishop McCort Catholic High School.

The sons of former Pitt standout Artrell Hawkins Sr., Artrell Jr. and Andrew each made their marks on a Bishop McCort program known for producing standout talent at the collegiate and professional level.

“Johnstown guys work hard. They are blue-collar types of guys,” Artrell Hawkins Jr. said prior to his 2010 induction into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame. “We put out quality guys. The guys that go pro, you can always count on.

"I’m very blessed. I feel my hometown has always been supportive of me. In turn I’ve always tried to conduct myself accordingly to try to make everyone in Johnstown proud.”

After a tenure with the Crimson Crushers which saw him set a then-school rushing record, Artrell Jr. took his game to the University of Cincinnati, where he lettered four years and helped the Bearcats end a 47-year bowl drought when they appeared the Humanitarian Bowl. Cincinnati beat Utah State 35-19 in that Dec. 29, 1997, game in Boise, Idaho.

His gridiron exploits continued in Cincinnati after the Bengals drafted him in the second round of the 1998 NFL draft. The Flood City product generated one of the big highlights of the Bengals’ season when he made a victory-preserving interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 20, 1998, in a 25-24 win. That triumph aided the Bengals in their first season sweep of the Steelers for the first time since 1990, despite a 3-13 record.

His career continued in Cincinnati through the 2003 season with his only NFL touchdown coming in a 2002 game against the Houston Texans, when he picked off David Carr and ran the ball back 102 yards – which at the time ranked as the NFL’s third-longest interception return.

Hawkins continued his career with the Carolina Panthers (2004) and New England Patriots (2005-06) before retiring from active competition.

A second-team all-state defensive back during his days at Bishop McCort, Andrew Hawkins’ path through the game saw him log time at the University of Toledo, where he was a two-way player for the Rockets.

Andrew’s path to the pro game saw a few interesting turns as he was a runner-up on “4th and Long,” a reality show hosted by former Dallas Cowboys wideout Michael Irvin with the top prize being a chance to compete for a roster spot with the Cowboys.

His game then headed north – where he was a part of the Montreal Alouettes’ 2009 Grey Cup championship team. He found his way onto the Cincinnati Bengals’ roster in 2011 and spent portions of three seasons with the Bengals before signing a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns before the 2014 season.

Entering the 2016 season, Hawkins has amassed 2,095 receiving yards on 176 catches with six touchdowns while topping the Browns in 2014 with 824 yards on 63 catches.

Always modest, the younger Hawkins has never taken his eye off of his objectives.

“I have a lot of goals and I want to continue to flourish,” Hawkins said in a 2015 interview with The Tribune-Democrat. “I want to maximize my opportunities on and off the field as a professional athlete. I never thought in a million years I would lead a NFL team in receiving. I’m thankful. At the same time, I’m just working to continue to keep the train going up.”

Shawn Curtis is the sports editor for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5085. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnCurtis430.​