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For four years at the University of Toledo, Andrew Hawkins made a successful career out of doing the dirty work. The 5-foot-8 Johnstown, Pa., native was primarily a wide receiver for the Rockets from 2004-07, but also led special teams units and even filled in at cornerback his senior year.
"At my size, you have to be able do to as much as possible," Hawkins said.
Hawkins' talent for being a jack of all trades paid off in a big way for him - a spot on a prime-time reality television show.
Hawkins is one of 12 NFL hopefuls featured on Spike TV's 4th and Long, which premieres May 18 at 10 p.m. Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin developed the show, worked with the athletes and negotiated the show's top prize: a spot at the Cowboys' training camp in August with a chance to make the 53-man roster.
The show has already been filmed, and Hawkins can't reveal the end result. He had an enjoyable time, though.
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"The experience, I wouldn't trade it for the world," Hawkins said. "I got to meet legends. Being coached by Michael Irvin, I would have done it for that privilege alone. He taught me so many things I would have never thought of. He completely changed my perspective."
Hawkins had 1,107 all-purpose yards in his UT career, with 70 receptions, two forced fumbles, one blocked punt and one fumble recovery. After his senior year he had a tryout with the Browns but was cut.
Hawkins returned to Toledo to work as a student assistant for the football team last season and finish up his degree in marketing, which he receives next month. But his NFL dream remained strong. Several of Hawkins' relatives, including brother and former Patriots defensive back Artrell Hawkins, have played professionally, and Andrew knows his sub-4.4 speed will always open eyes.
Hawkins heard about the show's tryouts, sent a DVD of highlights and was invited to the 45-man "combine" at the Rose Bowl in February. After becoming one of 12 finalists, a television camera followed him 24 hours a day in Dallas. The players, six receivers and six defensive backs, lived in the Cotton Bowl locker rooms for up to six weeks, working out with no access to the outside world.
"I went from a normal life to getting miked up every day, on camera every day," Hawkins said. "I adjusted OK. They say just be yourself. At first you're kind of timid, carrying yourself a certain way, but then you forget."
Players from schools including Oklahoma, Texas, Louisville and Tennessee helped make up the cast. Hawkins did his best to show off the Mid-American Conference's talents.
"Hopefully I put Toledo on the map if high school kids are watching the show," Hawkins said. "I'd like to think I carried myself in a way that represented the school and the city well. I loved going to college there, I wouldn't do anything differently. I am excited about the program."
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