Hoo Preview ’09: The Hawk’s Nest

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The Hawk’s Nest

With Ahmad Hawkins

Ahmad Hawkins played from 1997-2000 at Virginia where he suited up at both receiver and defensive back He had a team-high 4 INTs in 2000 and is legendary in Hoo circles for the go-ahead touchdown catch in the 1998 comeback win at Virginia Tech. In 2007, he was named Defensive Player of the Year for the Arena Football League. His “Hawk’s Nest” column will appear frequently on TheSabre.com.

At the start of September the Virginia Cavaliers embark on another journey in hopes of becoming champions of the very competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. The last time the Cavs were crowned champs of the ACC was 1995, a team that included a very talented secondary and featured one of the best cornerbacks to ever play at UVa in Ronde Barber. This year’s Cavaliers will look to be led by a very talented defensive secondary as well, one that has already received high praise by some as potentially the best secondary the University has had in over a decade.

Let’s take a look at the players in that secondary …


The leader of this very talented secondary is All-ACC performer Ras-I Dowling, who ironically wears the same No. 19 jersey as Barber did during his playing days as a Wahoo. Dowling is considered by many to be one of the best defensive backs in the country and I would have to agree with that statement. He is blessed with size, speed and intangibles that put him in a class of being a “shut down” corner. Even though Dowling stands at 6’2″, he has above average hips that allow him to get in and out of his breaks like a much smaller player at cornerback. Having fluid hips also allow him to take chances while playing bump and run coverage. If the wide receiver defeats him at the line of scrimmage, he also has the speed and ability to turn his hips thus allowing him to display his great closing ability.

Starting at the opposite corner