In a new episode, Jon Hale’s interviews UK’s Nick Mingione and AD Mitch Barnhart (10:25) about the baseball Wildcats’ quick turnaround. You can also hear from Barnhart about the success of the UK softball program.
Jon Hale/The CJ

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Can Dominique Hawkins play football in the NFL? 

Is this a serious question?

Hawkins recently worked out for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers and the Indiana Pacers. After four years of basketball at Kentucky, those were job interviews with what he has told me was his lifelong dream at stake.

Reps from the Chicago Bears showed up during his Lakers workout. Say what? 

That’s at least an investment of time, so that’s when the football question became serious. Can Dominique Hawkins play football in the NFL?

Coach Bert Browne has answered that for half a decade, saying yes without a second of hesitation or any signs of doubt.

“I think he’s an NFL strong safety,” Browne said. “That’s what I always thought he was.”

The first person Browne made this claim to was Hawkins.

Browne, then the football coach at Madison Central High, told Hawkins in the spring of his junior year, after his first season as a tailback and safety, that he was good enough to play in the Southeastern Conference. And if you’re good enough to play in the SEC, you’re good enough to seriously forecast a shot at the NFL. 

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“His hips are unbelievable when he hits somebody,” Browne said. “His explosion is incredible.” 

Browne previously coached at the college level, including stops at West Georgia, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech (where he played quarterback). In his eyes, Hawkins was much better than NCAA Division II, but the…