August 16, 2006

Hawkins shines as injuries mount

With starter Cassen Jackson-Garrison indefinitely sidelined with appendicitis, and last year's starter Jeff Jennings still not participating in contact drills after off-season knee surgery, Vanderbilt desperately needs a running back or two to step up their games.

If Tuesday evening's practice is indicative of what's to come, the Commodores may have found their man in Jared Hawkins. The redshirt freshmen running back was impressive in ripping off several big gains in practice, including one touchdown run.

"He ran well, and had some good blocking in there," observed Coach Bobby Johnson after practice.

With the two first-teamers down, Hawkins said he's felt the pressure to pick up his game.

"Cassen and Jeff are real good running backs, and I'm not trying to replace them, but I've got to step up, because the team needs me," said Hawkins. "I need to go with it. Cassen had the surgery, so hopefully he can come back soon and start playing. But the team needs (me) to step up, so you've got to step up."

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