The Sporting Life

Daryle Hawkins at the 2013 Civil War game. Photograph courtesy of Russ Long - gridirongirl.org

5:50 a.m., North Eugene

Daryle Hawkins awakens and readies for the long day ahead, pausing to wake up the woman he married just before the start of fall camp this season, Jasmine. "I kiss her goodbye and tell her, 'Have a wonderful day,'" Daryle says. "I'll see her when it gets dark again."

6:49 a.m., UO Athletic Treatment Center

Hawkins is here first thing each morning, either receiving treatment from an athletic trainer or warming up for the day on his own. "Gotta get your body right before you get going," he says.

7:45 a.m., Hatfield-Dowlin Complex Situation Room

One or two of the kicking units have drills each day, and those groups meet for a few minutes in the morning to review their responsibilities. Today, the focus is on kickoff return and punt skills. Hawkins is the third receiver on the front line of the Ducks' kickoff return team, so the odds are slim he'll need to retain much from this meeting. But coaches know if Hawkins reviews their schemes pregame, he can be used in a pinch despite not getting the practice reps the ones and twos will. Seated in the front row, his attention never wavers.

8:20 a.m., Hatfield-Dowlin Complex Receivers Meeting Room

Once again, Hawkins is seated in the front row. "He cares, and not just about football," position coach Matt Lubick says. "A lot of people talk about being the best at everything they do. He really tries to." Later on, Hawkins will miss an important team meeting while in Portland for his product design studio. Lubick will meet with him individually the next morning, a concession to the academic-athletic balancing act Hawkins is attempting.

9:04 a.m., Ed Moshofsky Sports Center

The first 11-on-11 period for the offense against the scout team involves primarily run plays. For a receiver, that means blocking, blocking, and more blocking. "If you're using bad technique, it's not going to be very fun," Hawkins says. "But if you go in hands-first, driving people, trying to push people off the ball the way it's meant to be done, it's a lot easier on your body." The attention to detail will pay off. Come Saturday against the Cougars, Hawkins will throw key blocks on Thomas Tyner's long touchdown run in the second quarter and Keanon Lowe's touchdown reception just after halftime.

10:41 a.m., Ed Moshofsky Sports Center

Now the Ducks are throwing the ball. Hawkins is targeted for a pass down the field by Marcus Mariota, only to drop a sure touchdown. There's no time to pout, because of the Ducks' practice tempo. Hawkins sprints back to the line to run another play, and then a third, before heading to the sideline and fuming for a second about the drop. "That's one of the beauties of our offense," Hawkins says. "You don't have time to sulk or anything like that." Some teams might let one bad play linger and affect them on another; the Ducks are conditioned to move on quickly, mentally as well as physically.

11:58 a.m., Lawrence Hall

He doesn't make it to Art History 387, Chinese Buddhist Art, in time to sit in the front row. Still, Hawkins manages to find a prominent spot four rows back by the time the lights are dimmed to accommodate a slide projector. Earlier in his career, he was an art major—not so much because he was interested in the field, but to satisfy NCAA requirements. To remain eligible, an athlete needs to declare a major by his third year. But declaring a product design major requires months of assembling a portfolio; while doing that, Hawkins spent nearly a year working on an art major. "The NCAA rules are meant to catch people at the bottom," says Jennie Leander, senior associate director of services for student-athletes, "but they sometimes trip up people at the top."

2:45 p.m., Interstate 5

He's on the road. If he were any other product design major, he'd have moved the 110 miles north for his fifth year at Oregon; it's where the instructors are, and the internships he'll need to pursue, and later the jobs.

But Hawkins didn't want to pass up one more fall with the Ducks—the excitement of the first year under Mark Helfrich, the luxury of the new Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. And so, three times a week throughout the term, he'll climb into his car for the nearly two-hour trek to Portland, attend a three-hour seminar, and drive home. "I'm really amazed he's been able to do it all," says Kiersten Muenchinger, director of the product design program in the university's School of Architecture and Allied Arts. "And he does it with a smile. He's the nicest fellow."

4:15 p.m., White Stag Block, Portland

Hawkins has 45 minutes until his studio begins. He spends the first few minutes socializing with classmates, the six-foot-four, 198-pound football player mingling with colleagues whose knit caps, flannel shirts, and skinny jeans look much more like what you'd expect from students in the creative arts. "You get a lot of kids who kind of live in their bubble," Leander says. "He's extraordinary in that he's got this whole other life going on outside of football."

Coincidentally, Hawkins has spent the first couple weeks of his studio class designing a whole other life. To start out the term, Hawkins and a partner were told three things about an imaginary consumer named "Jessica." She's 29 years old, she's a freelance journalist, and she lives in New York City. From there, Hawkins and his partner constructed a backstory and daily lifestyle, mapping out each on huge pieces of art paper. Then, Hawkins went about imagining a new product that might appeal to Jessica, and in turn the masses. "We've got a bunch of quirky ideas," he says. "But that's what it's all about. Get a bunch of ideas out as fast as possible." The scribbled drawings and pieces of scratch paper strewn around his work space, ideas that coalesce around a new type of iPhone charger, certainly attest to that.

5:18 p.m., White Stag Block, Portland

Class has begun. For this evening's session, the group of about 10 has retired to a computer lab upstairs to work on 3-D routing software. Later, they plan to study a 3-D printing program. "He's really good," Muenchinger says. "You have to be able to do both qualitative and quantitative works. And you also have to have a high level of attention to creative details. When you do a studio-based course, there's just a heck of an amount of time making sure something is crafted really well."

6:43 p.m., White Stag Block, Portland

Relief—due to a software issue, the students in Hawkins' product design studio are cut loose an hour early from class. He heads back to his workspace to sketch out a few more ideas. One by one, the rest of the class leaves for the evening, presumably for a short walk or bike ride home. The guy with more than 100 miles to drive stays behind.

"Everybody just peaced out?" the other remaining student asks.

Hawkins doesn't look up from the sketch he's working on. "Everybody's slacking," he says, his focus as intense as ever.

—By Rob Moseley