A big chair looked small when Tanner Hawkinson sat in it and talked about the honor of being selected as one of the Kansas University football team’s three captains.
Hawkinson finally looks like a left tackle. In years past, he looked like a good prospect with the sort of frame that could take on enough weight for him to hold off the best pass rushers in the Big 12. He always had the feet, now he has the thickness, and the weight he has put on looks like good weight — strong weight, not flab.
“Tanner’s gotten a lot better,” tri-captain Toben Opurum said from the same chair, moments after Hawkinson sat in it. “It’s helping him out, and it’s helping me out that we’re competing against each other every day. He’s definitely grown as a player.”
Charlie Weis’ first Kansas roster has more holes in it than a barrel of alcohol in a warehouse busted by the feds during prohibition.
But the unit that will be entrusted with protecting new quarterback Dayne Crist, the other tri-captain, does appear to be in solid shape. Hawkinson, left guard Duane Zlatnik and center Trevor Marrongelli, all returning starters, have been in the program for five years. Hawkinson’s in his fourth year as a starter, his third at left tackle.
Linemen and skill-position players don’t spend a great deal of time together during spring drills, so it was worth asking Crist if he has a feel for how much talent the guy protecting his blind side possesses.
“I think the best way you can measure out an offensive line is when you don’t hear their names called, and you’re not worrying about them,” Crist said. “You know they’re doing a good job. Really, Tanner’s been incredibly consistent, especially at that left-tackle spot, how critical that is, how important that is. He’s almost never getting yelled at.
“He’s a guy who’s assignment-sound, fundamentally doing things the right way, and it’s great having that security blanket at the left tackle.”
Crist explained how the voting took place.
“Players were handed a piece of paper,” he said. “Offensive guys were told to vote for an offensive guy, and defensive guys were told to vote for a defensive guy. We filled it out and handed it in.”
Did he vote for himself?
“No,” he said. “I voted for Tanner?”
“I was sitting right next to him, and I figured he would get mad at me if I didn’t vote for him,” Crist said. “No, I’m kidding. He deserved the vote, absolutely.”
Did Crist fold the ballot before handing it in?
“Yeah, I didn’t want Tanner to know I voted for him,” Crist said.
Nothing would make Crist happier than for Hawkinson, honored with his selection as a captain, to earn postseason honors.