When you’re 6 foot 1 inches tall and weigh 215 pounds, one might say you have all the tools to be a good football player, but when you have the skill, determination, and willingness to work hard it makes you not just good but great, on and off the football field. That is the case for Tristan Hawks, a defensive end and offensive tackle for the Lakewood Leopards.
Coach James Lewis nominated Hawks for a tryout to the Blue-Grey Combine which was held in Greensboro in March, where the Leopard demonstrated his skills.
A couple months later, he received a letter as a red-zone prospect to go to the second level in Richmond, Va., the Washington Redskins Training Center.
Several coaches and players ran the drills, which consisted of a 40-yard dash. Tristan ran it in 4.8 seconds. In the bench press test, he lifted 185 pounds (23 reps). He did the 20-yard shuttle run in 4.6 seconds, and the standing broad jump at 9 foot, 3 inches.
Tristan said there were a lot of defensive drills in the combine and he learned a better stance, and a few different moves using his hands. Being quick and building speed were also among the skills he acquired.
About two weeks ago, the Lakewood Leopard received a letter inviting him to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl, which will take place at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. There are two dates that the game will be played, Jan. 22 or 29. A final date will be determined later.
Hawks can be found at the Gridiron weight room five days a week, taking off Saturday and Sunday.
He plays on both sides of the ball for the Leopards this season. For offense, he plays offensive tackle and on defensive he plays defensive end.
During his freshman year, he played on the junior varsity team, but was moved up at the end of the year to the varsity squad.
Hawk’s athletic career began at the age of six, when he began playing flag football for the Sampson County Parks and Recreation and then regular football. From there, he attended Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School where he made the football team.
During his sophomore year, the Leopards made it to the Eastern Regional finals, the best in the school’s history.
Last year the Leopards lost in the second round to Tarboro. They were the co-champions with James Kenan in the Carolina Conference last year as well.
In order to get better, Hawks went to football camps at East Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Campbell University this summer.
One person the young man says has been instrumental in pushing him to be a better football player is his dad, Larry. Hawks said his dad made him a better man, a good person, “and he told me to always finish what you start. Of course, his dad served in the Special Forces, which has helped him to train the right way.
Not only is Hawks a top notch football player, he is a good student in the classroom, earning a 3.6 GPA.
He is in the Peer Group Connection at Lakewood, where he is a mentor for the underclassman.
Right now he is getting ready to start sending applications to different schools. He hopes to attend East Carolina, Campbell, or Methodist.
“I hope to become a physical therapist and work with athletes that have sports-related injuries,” noted Hawks.
In his spare time he works out and plays football with his younger brother, Aiden.
His mother Callie said that her son is a mature young man, hard working, kind, compassionate about other people and a lot of fun. “He is also a humble kid as well,” she said.
Hawks is the oldest of four. He has two young sisters, Lorin and Addie, who play volleyball for Lakewood. The youngest is Aiden.
The family says they are anxious for a definite date for the bowl game, but will have to wait and see when Tristan will take the field at the Dallas Cowboy Stadium.
Melony Henderson can be reached at [email protected]