The coach wanted to help a talented player, but wasn't sure what to do. He wasn't too familiar with college football recruiting.
So Frank Krevetski produced videotapes of Artrell Hawkins's career highlights, then planned to ship them across the country. Maybe someone would notice. When he got to the large envelope with the South Bend, Ind., address, he chuckled. Notre Dame?
''I figured, why not shoot for that?'' recalled Krevetski, who was the coach at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Pa., in the early 1990s. ''I never really coached a lot of players who were Division 1-caliber. We didn't have players like Artrell on a yearly basis.''
Notre Dame never called. Krevetski wasn't surprised. But one Irish staff member, off to a new career challenge, didn't forget what he saw on that tape. Rick Minter was leaving Notre Dame to become coach at the University of Cincinnati, and he phoned Krevetski, asking if Hawkins had committed to another college.
It might have been too late. Hawkins was visiting Wake Forest but if he called home, Krevetski told Minter he'd put them in touch.
Hawkins called. And the course of his future took an unexpected turn.
Hawkins is now in his eighth NFL season, and much like the unexpected turn he took from Bishop McCort to the University of Cincinnati, he never thought he'd be suiting up for the New England Patriots in 2005. And he certainly never thought he'd be playing safety, instead of his natural cornerback position.
Last night, the 29-year-old Hawkins invited Krevetski to Gillette Stadium for a pretty sweet moment in his career.
After playing six years with the Bengals (1998-2003), one with the Panthers (2004), and sustaining a hamstring injury that led the Redskins to release him in training camp this season, Hawkins was appearing in the NFL playoffs for the first time. He wanted Krevetski there because ''you always want to remember those who give you opportunities.'' Krevetski said he expected to shed a tear when Hawkins first took the field. The bond between player and coach can last a long time.
Signed as a free agent by the Patriots Nov. 15, Hawkins was elevated to the first team when the Patriots visited the Chiefs Nov. 27. He was the team's seventh starter at strong end safety, following Rodney Harrison, Guss Scott, James Sanders, Arturo Freeman, Randall Gay, and Michael Stone. Although undersized for the role at 5 feet 10 inches, 190 pounds, and having never played the position, Hawkins's intelligence and physical style made him the best fit.
''That's why you never give up, you never lose faith,'' Hawkins said. ''As the saying goes, God works in mysterious ways. At times you think you might understand. When I was with the Redskins, I really wanted to make the ballclub, but then unforeseeable stuff happens. I guess the beauty of it, in this case, is that the opportunity with the New England Patriots came up. It's the chance of a lifetime.
''Coming in at kind of the tail end of the season, I've gotten my feet wet and learned about my teammates. I had read a lot about them and how professional this team is. After seeing the amount of work and preparation that goes into it, I'm not surprised at how successful the team is. This year has been tough for me in terms of injuries, but I'm appreciative Coach [Bill] Belichick and the organization brought me in.''
Funny, you hear the same thing from the new guys, over and over and over..... :rocker: