Colorado's Hawkins has close ties

Quarterback's Idaho high school coach keeps tabs on him from West Mifflin


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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. --

There's a coach in West Mifflin who knows the quarterback at Colorado very, very well from their time together in Idaho.

Confused?

West Mifflin High School coach Tim Brennan, in his third year at the school, was formerly the coach at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise before moving to the Pittsburgh area when his wife took a job there.

His star quarterback in Idaho was Cody Hawkins, who led Bishop Kelly to back-to-back unbeaten seasons and state championships in 2004 and '05, throwing for 73 touchdowns in that span.

Hawkins -- now a junior starter at Colorado (1-2), which plays at West Virginia (2-1) tomorrow night -- is the son of Dan Hawkins, the Colorado head coach who formerly was the ultra-successful coach who built Boise State into a winner.

Got all that?

One thing is for certain: Brennan knows what makes the younger Hawkins so good and what he does that could give the West Virginia defense fits.

"His leadership ability," Brennan said of the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Hawkins. "He has made kids, at all levels he's played, rally around him. Cody understands, and I have never really coached a kid who has done this like him, he understands that everyone needs to be motivated a little differently. Sometimes, there is a kid who you need to really get after and sometimes you need to approach another kid a little differently. He just knows how to do it."

Hawkins also knows how to win. Most everyone would agree that the truest barometer of a quarterback's success is wins and losses.

If that indeed is the case, Hawkins went through a stretch in his life where he could have called himself the most successful quarterback on the planet -- and he would have had a legitimate claim to such a statement.

From the time he was in Pop Warner football in sixth grade through Colorado's 2007 season opener, Hawkins was 60-0 in games he started at quarterback.

"Everyone probably really started to notice him in seventh and eighth grade," Brennan said. "Obviously, with his dad being at Boise State, they knew who Cody was, but as a player, it was in seventh and eighth grade that he really started to show people his abilities."

And as Hawkins grew, so, too, did those abilities.

He played freshman football and sophomore football at Bishop Kelly -- naturally engineering those teams to undefeated seasons -- before stepping in and leading the varsity team to a 24-0 combined record as a junior and senior.

West Virginia coach Bill Stewart, when asked about Hawkins yesterday, couldn't say enough about the kid who also had an offer from Oregon and more than likely would have gone to Boise State had his father remained the coach there.

In Colorado's pass-heavy, get-the-ball-out-quick system that Hawkins grew up studying diligently, he is 71 for 135 this season for 753 yards and five touchdowns.

"I hate to say the words 'gym rat' because this is not a round ball," Stewart said. "But he's the son of a coach and he's a film rat, he's a film guy.

"He grew up around football, he knows football. He's seen guys get chewed out, he's seen guys get loved. He knows where to place that football.

"You just look at all the great people he was around growing up ... this guy knows the game. He is a very, very good football player."

He might not be that big for a quarterback.

"Yes, you could say he gets a lot out of his talents," said Brennan, who will be in the stands at Mountaineer Field tomorrow night. "He's a great character kid, a hard worker and someone who, a lot of ways in life, makes the most of everything."

Stewart and the Mountaineers are hoping Hawkins doesn't make too much in the way of offensive advancement tomorrow.

Last season, in West Virginia's third game, Hawkins went 22 for 33 with a touchdown in Colorado's 17-14 overtime victory against the visiting Mountaineers. This time, Stewart will try to employ the same tactic and hope it works a little better: Simply, don't let Hawkins have the football in his hands.

"Last year, I tried to keep the ball on the ground to keep him off the field," Stewart said. "This year, I just hope our defense can contain him."


Colin Dunlap can be reached at cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459.


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