|photo by Mark Campbell|
Sean Hakes arrived on the scene at Delaware one day before the start of pre-season practice. To say the least, that late arrival has not diminished his enthusiasm about competing for the starting quarterback job for the 2008 Blue Hens. Even Coach Keeler has indicated that it is only the lack of practice time in our system that has kept him from competing for the opening day assignment. This is the final interview in the three part series about the 2008 Delaware quarterbacks. I hope the enthusiasm in Sean Hakes' voice will somehow extend to the printed page.
GH: You took a round-about way of getting here. Can you tell us what it was that attracted you to Delaware?
Hakes: Really, it was the whole atmosphere. I watched the games on ESPN every time Delaware was on. When they were showing the playoffs, my brother called me and said that Delaware would be a very good place for me. So I sent them my film back in November while I was still playing at Orange Coast. At the time they were not thinking about offering because I still had to graduate after the spring. Next, they picked up Robby and I thought that was the end of things for me. Then once Coach Ginn became the offensive coordinator, at the start of summer, I got a phone call and they said they were interested in me and wondered if I was feeling the same way. I told them, you know, that I sent my film there for a reason and it seemed like a good marriage.
"When they were showing the playoffs, my brother called me and said that Delaware would be a very good place for me."
GH: You have only been at Delaware for a short time. How comfortable do you feel in this type of offense?
Hakes: I feel good! I know that I need to pick up my speed with my reads and just learn the little things that make the quarterback great in this offense. I'm getting the base stuff and I feel that I am grasping the offense pretty well. There are still strides that I have to make. I have been here for ten days (at the time of the interview) and I feel like I have made tremendous strides so far but I am not anywhere near where I need to be to lead this team.
GH: What kind of things take the longest for someone in your situation to pick up?
Hakes: Really, it's just getting seasoned in the offense, feeling comfortable, knowing how all the little details work, knowing certain routes that you can't go to, learning the progressions, the footwork. It's really a collaboration of everything coming together. It's a lot, but it just takes time. It's just extra work that you have to put in at night when you're in your dorm. It's spending time with coach and when he's not there, going in the film room and catching up on all the little things. It's especially true in the situation that I'm in - coming in so late. It's not too hard for me to get everything quickly but it is hard to prove myself in this short a period of time.
"It's not too hard for me to get everything quickly but it is hard to prove myself in this short a period of time."
GH: For what it's worth, several of your receivers have told us that they really like the way you throw the ball. I think you are starting to prove yourself to them.
Hakes: That's good to hear.
GH: You didn't mention having any difficulty learning the hand signals that come in from the sideline before each play. How difficult is that to pick up?
Hakes: Oh, that's not hard to pick up at all. I have been in a ton of offenses that use similar signals. At Akron we were no huddle for part of the time that I was there. At Orange Coast we were no huddle and in high school we were no huddle. I think I am very savvy with the hand signals and I have picked that up very well.
GH: Is there anything that you particularly like about the Delaware spread offense?
Hakes: I like the pace. I like that the quarterback is the commander. I like how the we use the pace as an attack team. We go after it. I like that we put the ball downfield. But I also like how we incorporate the run in this offense. We're not partial to either the pass or the run. This offense allows us to be strong at both.
GH: Since the fans have yet to see you play, would you tell us if this type of offense fits in well with your strengths as a quarterback?
Hakes: It does... I mean, eventually it will. There is a barrier that I have to get over. In the past I have always played more run and gun. I was able to just sling the ball all over. That was the style that I played in. I have to learn to play within the system. In the past, if I saw something open I would just go for it. Take the chances, take the risks but that's not how you play in this offense. That's one thing I have to learn. In the scrimmage I was burnt because of that. I threw a pick because I saw a guy open and I just flung it out there. I didn't get enough behind the ball as I should have. I didn't get my hips around like I wanted. So I just have to learn the system and do what the coaches want me to do. I feel that my talent could fit well into this system but I have to overcome the way I did things in past systems. I have always been taught to just make things happen, to just go for it and that's not how they want me to play.
GH: I watched your Rivals.com highlight films from your high school days in Texas and you seemed to run the ball a lot. Do you think that you will be asked to run the ball much at Delaware?
Hakes: I don't know. It doesn't seem like it right now. But it all changes when it's in a game situation. You can only judge so much from the practice field especially with the limited reps. I really feel that when I get a chance to get on the field they will see a whole lot more from me.
GH: Do you like to run the ball?
Hakes: I'm comfortable with it. It's not like I favor it but I am comfortable running the ball. If I feel the pocket collapse, I'm ready to get my yards. I'm not one to slide or go down the first time somebody hits me. When I get the chance I'm going to deliver a blow too. I also played free safety when we won our two state championships in high school. Hitting is part of the game. I like to pop somebody and I don't mind getting popped. That gets me going.
"In my first high school, the coach told me that I would never play quarterback again."
GH: You have played at a bunch of schools. What I mean is that you played at two different high schools then you went from Akron to Orange Coast to Delaware. Tell us a little about that journey?
Hakes: In high school my throwing hand was injured. I have a torn flexor tendon in my ring finger. I had surgery but I still can't bend the finger. In my first high school, the coach told me that I would never play quarterback again. So I transferred out and we won two state championships. When I decided to go to Akron it was their offense that attracted me. They ran a real complex offense and I really liked the coaches. Then there was a coaching change and things were never the same.
GH: That hand injury for a quarterback is pretty amazing. How much does it hamper you now?
Hakes: (laughing) It definitely would be better if I had never injured the hand but I do pretty well with it. I mean, it hinders the strength of my hand somewhat because I have a bunch of cartilage in my ring finger. But I have gotten through and used to it and obviously played well with it so it's not something that I complain about.
"I wouldn't have come here if I didn't feel like I could lead the team. I'm a winner."
GH: As a final question, could you tell us why you feel confident that you could lead this team?
Hakes: I wouldn't have come here if I didn't feel like I could lead the team. I'm a winner. I hate losing even more that I love winning. That's the mentality I go out with every day. I've been playing this game since I was five years old and I know what it takes to lead a team.
GH: Sean, on behalf of GoHens.net we certainly want to thank you for agreeing to this interview and we will be watching you very closely.
Hakes: Thank you. I appreciate it very much.