Torn ACL sidelines Bulls TE Hawkins for 2011
Already thin at tight end, USF football has taken another hit at a key position as junior tight end Jeff Hawkins tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during summer voluntary workouts earlier this month and will miss the 2011 season.
Hawkins, who was recovering from a torn ACL in his other knee suffered in December, was one of USF's few blocking tight ends with college experience, though he had zero catches in his first three seasons with the Bulls. With Hawkins out, the Bulls have two pass-catching tight ends at the hybrid "H" TE/WR position in junior Andreas Shields and sophomore Isaac Virgin, but very little else at fullback and tight end, two positions that practice together and are largely interchangeable in USF's offense.
The team's top two fullbacks entering the fall, junior Armando Sanchez and walk-on Chris Breit, were both converted from linebacker this spring, and the only other tight end on scholarship is true freshman Tye Turner, now all the more likely to play immediately. The Bulls, who lost tight ends Kevin Gidrey and Andrew Ketchel and fullback Richard Kelly to graduation, have two walk-on tight ends listed on the end-of-spring roster in Tyler Guy and Jake Carlton, as well as another walk-on in fullback Justin Wilcox. If necessary, the Bulls could convert one of their smaller offensive linemen to work as a blocking tight end.
Hawkins' USF career has been marked by injuries -- a shoulder injury limited him as a redshirt freshman in 2009, and he played in 10 games on special teams last season before the knee injury during preparations for the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He will undergo surgery to repair the torn ligament on Tuesday. For him to be eligible for a sixth year, USF would have to show a documented injury that would have kept him from playing in 2008, when he redshirted his first season on campus.