"He's a polarizing -- he's a quarterback," Hawkins said on Good Morning Football. "So the quarterbacks get all the love. Even though he's a receiver, he's still a quarterback because we're talking about him at this desk. And players don't like that. It's hard to get recognition, it's hard to be talked about in the morning shows. And Terrelle gets that. I think it rubs DBs the wrong way and opponents in general."
Hawkins has nothing but respect for Pryor and his work ethic. He noted that, during some of the more difficult points in Pryor's transition to receiver, he has to simply shut Pryor down and tell him to relax.
"Terrelle came in last year as a QB convert -- he was going to wide receiver and I still remember the first practice. I'm like, 'This kid is terrible. There's no way this is going to work.' You know how hard it is. This is not going to happen. He's 26, 27 years old, he's not going to do it," Hawkins said. "There's not a player that has worked as hard as Terrelle Pryor. I'm talking about putting the time in. Terrelle will text me at 1 o'clock in the morning like, 'Hey, do you think this play is going to get called?' I'm like, 'Terrelle, I'm off the clock. Don't talk to me, I've got kids.' He's like, 'Aw, yeah, man, I have no life. This is my life. Something's wrong with me.' But this is who he is. He's the first one in the facility, he's the last one to leave ... To see where he is now is amazing."
I think Hawkins is probably on to something. While players like Jones also get plenty of attention, there's likely an inherent frustration from tenured NFL stars who hear about someone like Pryor, who finished 22nd in receiving yards (1,007) and 27th in receptions (77), more than someone like Doug Baldwin.
Part of that is our fault for sometimes favoring a good narrative, but Pryor's turnaround should not be overlooked. Even good wide receivers struggle once they're elevated from college to the NFL. To find someone who learned a new position and also established himself as a top-20 option at the position is fairly incredible in just one season.
Also, Pryor must find a way to get used to the hate because it will only intensify after this offseason. His dual-threat abilities will earn him a nice chunk of change in free agency, which will only widen the target on his back.