Four-star defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins committed to Penn State’s 2018 class last week with a video on The Players’ Tribune — and he broke down how it all happened.
Hawkins — whose football family knows comedian and film actor Gary Owen well — went viral with the video, which has more than 800 retweets and 2,000 likes on Twitter.
Hawkins discussed the video, Tom Brady and more in this week’s edition of “Five Questions.”
Q: So I gotta ask about your commitment video: Who’s idea was that? Walk me through that process.
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A: I wanted to do a commitment video; a lot of people were doing it. I saw guys on Bleacher Report, and I talked to my uncle Andrew, who recently retired from New England, and he’s affiliated with The Players’ Tribune. He reached out to them; they had never really done one before, so they were kind of iffy about it. But we’re good family friends with the guy in the video, Gary Owen, whose house we actually filmed at. He’s a comedian who has a standup on Netflix. He does TV shows and all this crazy stuff. So he was like, ‘Give me a day and I’ll think of an idea.’ He came to me and said that we’re going to do ‘Get Out.’ The real movie has a lot of drama, a lot of racist type stuff, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s not really a good idea.’ It’s kind of much for recruiting. They took that part out of it, and they did a good job. I had fun doing it. I had a good time.
Q: How are you guys family friends with Gary Owen?
A: My dad played for the Cincinnati Bengals for six years. My uncle played there for a little bit. Gary’s from Cincinnati, and his son went to my high school. I date his daughter’s best friend. There’s a bunch of connections with Gary.
Q: You’re not the only 2018 Penn State commit to do so virally. Imhotep safety Isheem Young verballed with a Bleacher Report video. Whose video was better?
A: I gotta say that they’re two different videos with different styles. If I had to say which one would be a Hollywood production, I would have to say mine. I did some church plays growing up. I was well-prepared for this opportunity. ... On Easter Sunday, there was a play where I was “Rez: The Rock That Rolled,” as in the rock that had Jesus in the tomb. I was a boulder.
Q: You were raised in a football family. Through the years and family connections, who’s the coolest football player you’ve ever met?
A: Oh man. Well, my dad played in New England back in the day, and Tom Brady was a guy I idolized. Even to this day, he’s probably my favorite football player. I’d go to the stadium with my dad, and when he went to defensive meetings, Tom Brady would come out of his meetings, and I’d walk around with him. That was probably the coolest experience for me. I was like 5 or 6. But I remember it as clear as day because it’s Brady. You don’t forget that.
Q: At the end of the video, you put on the Penn State hat. Why’d you ultimately choose Penn State over Cincinnati?
A: My mom and dad both went to Cincinnati. The deciding factor for me was when I take away football and I take away the coaches, and I look at just the school and the opportunities it’ll provide me no matter what happens, I know Penn State has a great alumni base and a great degree. That kind of separated it. Then you look at things like the Big Ten, Coach (James) Franklin and his staff and the recruiting class. I’m really close with guys like PJ (Mustipher). It’s exciting all around.