Hawkins following anticipated path

Steelers' rookies take the field for rookie minicamp.

Players come from everywhere and anywhere; if you can play, the NFL will find you.

But those that come from the SEC arrive with a certain level of anticipation and expectation.

LSU offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins, selected by the Steelers on the fourth round of the NFL draft, is no exception.

"When I first got there they tell you, 'We're focusing on you to get to the next step and we're going to do everything in our power to get you there,' and that's what happened," Hawkins explained.

Hawkins, 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, practiced and played with a number of players who have already transitioned from the SEC to the NFL.

"Since my freshmen year it was a great amount," he said. "I can't even keep count on just my hands."

He likewise went against plenty of players who have since proven to be NFL material during his three seasons playing right and left offensive tackle for LSU.

"More than enough from all the (SEC) teams, from 'Bama, from Mississippi State, from Ole Miss, they always find their way in the NFL," Hawkins said. "I'm here too, finally."

Hawkins' transition commenced in earnest with this weekend's rookie minicamp.

What's transpiring has been enough to get Hawkins' attention and Hawkins can't get enough, particularly as it relates to working for the first time under Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

"It's more than what I expected," Hawkins said. "I was expecting a great time just to learn from one of the greats and it's been exactly that and more. He's teaching me a lot in just these two days.

"It's been perfect."

Hawkins has already learned a significant lesson about what an NFL rookie camp demands.

"Keep focused, make sure you get in the playbook and just learn just keep up with the tempo," he said.

"Everything goes fast, from tempo to play-calling. You gotta get on the road. You gotta have your mind ready.

"It's a fast tempo, a lot of learning terminology but honestly, I'm loving it."

That explained the ear-to-ear grin Hawkins was sporting.

"I feel like a big kid out there," he said.

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