Kierre Hawkins placed his bag on the grass and ripped off his gloves, exhaling deeply. He kept his helmet on, though, and turned to reporters anxious to speak with the physically imposing athlete from Maple Heights High School.
He's no Ricky Williams, the former NFL star who at times conducted interviews with his headgear on due to anxiety. No, Hawkins believes that if his helmet is nearby, it needs to be on his head.
"If I got my helmet, I'm wearing it. I'm ready," Hawkins said Tuesday after attending Ohio State camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. "I'm ready."
It's a way of life for the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder and the state's 11th-ranked receiver for the class of 2016. Hawkins excels in a variety of ways for the Mustangs, snagging passes, taking handoffs or even lining up at quarterback and running the ball to gain yards for his team.
He's a jack of all trades who said the Ohio State coaches have told him he'll likely play wide receiver, tight end or even H-back once he arrives in 2016. His size doesn't appear on paper to be made for the position that made guys like Percy Harvin, Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall famous, but Hawkins has the tools to be a matchup nightmare for defenses.
"That's what's going to make the team better. That's what they want, they want a big slot," Hawkins said. "They got me. I'm here, I'm right here."
Hawkins committed in October, two weeks after receiving an offer from Urban Meyer to become the third member of the 2016 class. The class has already swelled to 16 players, and Hawkins said he's already touching base with them while also trying to recruit more talent either his age or younger.
"I'll be in group messages. I talk to everybody in our recruiting class for 2016," Hawkins said. "I just know (those not committed) got Ohio State as their little recruiting bit, so I'm like, 'Go to O-State! That's where it's at!'"
"Jalin Marshall and all them, they got to play their freshman year. Why can't I?"– Kierre Hawkins, Ohio State 2016 Commit
Meyer's said he foresaw a boost in recruiting for 2016, in large part due to Ohio State capturing the first ever College Football Playoff national championship barely five months ago.
Hawkins pledged to the Buckeyes way before that ever happened, though, knowing that Columbus was the place for him all along.
"It's the dream. My dream school. I always wanted to go there. It's my dream," Hawkins said. "I can't pass up on my dream, I've been working on it for forever."
Hawkins added that he's busting his tail to do everything he can to graduate high school early and enroll at Ohio State this coming January, in order to get a leg up and continue to learn from the coaching staff. The intensity coaches like tight ends coach Tim Hinton exude daily, even during a high school camp, is something Hawkins is happy he's been subjected to.
"Every time I come down here they tell me I gotta work on something and I work on it and then I come back down and see what else I gotta work on," Hawkins said. "So I can just be up here and just play. That's all I want to do is play. That's all I want to do."
Putting on weight, fine tuning his routes and getting quicker are three things the coaches told Hawkins he needed to improve, the latter being one they were pleased to see progression with Tuesday.
"I got faster. That's what they told me today. I got faster and smoother in my routes," Hawkins said. "Just gotta stick more and just get better."
It's taking those needed improvements to heart and keeping his helmet nearby in case an opportunity to work on his game arises that's keeping Hawkins eager to finish out his high school career strong and get to Columbus as soon as possible.
But he just doesn't want to get to campus early.
He wants to be an integral part.
"They haven't talked to me about playing early or going in and playing as a freshman. That's just my goal, just to prove to them that I can play," Hawkins said. "Jalin Marshall and all them, they got to play their freshman year. Why can't I?"