“I feed off those young guys.” Jerald Hawkins is ready to go to work with the Roughriders offensive line


The Saskatchewan Roughriders entered training camp with a sizeable hole at left tackle, but they may have found a colossal figure in Jerald Hawkins who could potentially fill that large void.

Hawkins was coaching high school last year when he received a call from his athletic trainer from college about possible interest in joining the Roughriders, which caught the 29-year-old by surprise.

“I was just happy for the opportunity to be honest, I can’t complain.”

In high school, Hawkins athleticism was on display as he played both offensive and defensive lines in Baldwin, Louisiana. Besides football, he also played basketball, baseball and track and field, where he competed in the shot put. He won the Louisiana 2A state title in the shot put in 2011 with a toss of 52-9 ½.

Following high school, Hawkins attended Louisiana State University (LSU). He won the starting right tackle position as a red-shirt freshman.

During his three years as an LSU Tiger, Hawkins played with plenty of big names in the football world.  Baltimore Raven Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.,  five-time Pro-Bowler Jarvis Landry, Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, Cleveland Browns linebacker Deion Jones and Cincinnati Bengals tackle La’el Collins were some of the players who were Hawkins teammates at LSU.

The Tigers offensive line led by Hawkins and Collins was a big reason for the success of running back Leonard Fournette during his NCAA days. Over a 25-game span in 2014 & 2015, Fournette rushed for 2,987 rushing yards with 32 touchdowns. The running back would go on to be drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Looking back at his time at LSU, Hawkins enjoyed his time as Tiger.

“Those college days, those glory days was amazing.”

After spending his first two seasons at right tackle, Hawkins switched to left tackle after Collins moved on to the NFL.

When it comes to playing left or right tackle, there isn’t a big difference according to Hawkins.

“Just the stance honestly, everything’s pretty much the same, still aggressive, still throwing the hands but you’re switching your feet.”

After his time at LSU, the tackle was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. But injuries quickly took a toll.

During a joint practice in his rookie season with the Detroit Lions, Hawkins suffered a shoulder injury that landed him on the injured reserve list.

After serving as the Steelers backup left tackle behind Alejandro Villanueva in 2017, Hawkins suffered a torn quad injury during the 2018 off-season that ended his season prematurely.

He was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of training camp in 2019. After a season in Tampa Bay, the tackle spent time with the Houston Texans practice roster before the Steelers signed Hawkins off the Texans practice roster with a season-ending injury to their starting right tackle, Zach Banner.

Hawkins would be placed on the reserve/COVID list on a pair of occasions in 2020 during his second stint with the Steelers.

He would conclude his time in the NFL with a pair of stops in New England and New Orleans.

It’s been a short amount of time since the 6’6, 305 lb. offensive lineman arrived in Saskatchewan, but Hawkins has already been impressed with the Roughriders team.

“This is an amazing organization, love everything about it, everything’s so professional, they’ll give you anything you need honestly to succeed, I just love it.”

In the first couple of days at camp, Riders Head Coach Craig Dickenson was impressed by Hawkins taking a leadership role with the offensive line. The Louisiana product believes helping his teammates will also help him.

“I feed off those young guys, giving them a little bit of pointers here and there, cause at the end of the day, I’m still a rookie too, I’m still learning here as well. ”



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