Countdown to Kickoff: 14 Days (Andre Brown Jr. and Marqui Hawkins)

Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)

'Get on your feet Hoosier fans, it's third down!' False alarm, just making sure you are paying attention. However, with only two weeks left until the Hoosiers take field for their opener, now's the time to start exercising those vocal chords in preparation for cheering on your Cream and Crimson this fall. The team would greatly benefit from the presence of a loud and boisterous twelfth man, so they are depending on us to fill the stadium and provide them with a home-field advantage. But I digress, today we are continuing our string of double dips into the Hoosier roster by looking at a couple of fresh faces from Georgia who will be wearing the number 14, Andre Brown Jr. and Marqui Hawkins. Each made their way to Bloomington this year, but their journeys to campus were quite different. 

Andre Brown Jr. 

First taking a look at the athlete who most recently made his way into Bloomington, Andre Brown Jr. was a major contributor on both sides of the ball during his prep career at Columbia High School in Decatur, Ga. As a defensive back he collected 70 tackles, including three for a loss while also picking off three passes, two of which were returned for a touchdown. He also forced two fumbles, recovered three and had four pass breakups. As the team's quarterback, he threw for 1,800 yards and 19 touchdowns with an impressive 70.3 completion percentage. He also carried the ball for 504 yards and nine touchdowns.

His efforts were met with multiple accolades, including being named honorable mention All-State, was the region's most valuable player, and was All-County and All-Region as both a senior and junior. He was also invited the U.S. Army National Combine. However, his excellence was far from limited to just the gridiron, having earned letters in both baseball and track and field. And with offers from the likes of Harvard, Yale and Pennsylvania, I think it's fair to say he more than excelled in the classroom, attaining a grade point average that was in the top five percent of his graduating class.  

It's not as if the Hoosiers were Brown's only offer from a major football program, according to he held offers from Duke, Kentucky, Minnesota, N.C. State, Syracuse, and Wake Forest, among many others. When it came time to select a school, he knew wanted to attend a university that would provide him with challenges both on and off the gridiron. 

"I love the coaching staff and the facilities," said Brown in a interview with writer Matt Weaver. "The education there and the players were also things that stood out for me. I also love that it is the Big Ten and that is a great conference to play in."

Future Outlook

Despite only being in town just a couple of months, it would be hard to believe that this versatile athlete does not at least get a shot to contribute in secondary this fall. As you all well know, the Hoosiers will need some youngsters to step up on the backend of the defense, especially at corner, and Brown looks as likely to do so as anybody. At 6'0" and 194-pounds, he possesses the type of size and length necessary to battle with some of the larger wide receivers in today's game. With so much uncertainty within the group as a whole, it will be interesting to see how this shakes out over the next few weeks. 

Marqui Hawkins

The athlete from Columbus, Ga. is entering his third season of college football, but he has yet to ever play a down. Hawkins joined the Hoosiers back in January after the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced that they would be shutting down their football program, due to financial reasons (since then the school has decided that it would be reinstating their program starting in 2017). Because of these strange set of circumstances, the 6'2", 214-pound wide receiver was made immediately eligible to play this fall.

Because he enrolled at IU for the spring semester, he was able to take part in the team's off-season conditioning program and spring practices. However, after breaking his wrist during some passing drills, he was limited throughout most of spring, but did get a chance to showcase his skills in the team's final practice, catching a touchdown during some work down in the red zone. 

As a senior at Carver Washington High School, he caught 40 passes for 800 yards and six touchdowns. Before making his way to UAB, he started out in Gainesville at the University of Florida. In addition to Florida, he had quite the impressive offer list coming as a prep player, including the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Tennessee, and USC.

After a redshirt season with the Gators, Hawkins decided it would be best for his career to find a new home and landed with the Dragons. Because of transfer rules, he had to sit out the 2014 season and was poised to see the field for the team this fall before the school announced it would be shutting the doors on their football program. 

Future Outlook

Just like in the secondary, the Hoosiers are in need of playmakers at wide receiver if this season is to reach its full potential. With the playing status of Camion Patrick still up in the air, the need for Hawkins to step up becomes even greater. With his combination of size and athleticism, there's a good chance that Sudfeld could target Hawkins early and often as the team looks to get its passing game back on track after a less than inspiring 2014 season.