In fact, there are times when he even has to pull back on the reins with the freshman guard.
"The kid works so hard," Calipari said. "His heart rate is--I have to stop him because I'm afraid he's going to fall out."
Hawkins came to Kentucky as the final piece of a top-ranked recruiting class and the least-heralded of the eight Wildcat freshmen, leading most to assume the Richmond, Ky., native's future as a regular contributor was likely a year or more down the road. But just weeks into the season, Hawkins' tireless effort has become impossible to ignore.
He earned first-half playing time against Michigan State, holding his own in a 1-2 matchup. In the days that followed, Calipari said Hawkins' role would expand further.
In an 87-49 win over Robert Morris on Sunday, it was clear why.
"Coach Cal puts me in there to turn up on defense, give more energy," Hawkins said. "I know my role. What I'm supposed to do is put pressure on the ball and get our defense going. I'm doing great right now, I feel like, and Coach has been telling me to continue with the hard work that I'm doing."
A look at the final box score from the Wildcats' supposed revenge victory over the Colonials -- who ended UK's season a year ago in the NIT -- and Hawkins doesn't seem to have been a major factor. He scored four points -- the first of his college career -- and had three assists, a block, a steal and a rebound, but his impact went far beyond statistics.
Hawkins checked in at the 17:05 mark provided an instant shock of energy. Taking over the responsibility of hounding the opposing point guard even though he plays the wing on offense, Hawkins spearheaded the UK defense for all of his 18 minutes, often in a press that Calipari turned to extensively for the first time.
"Well, today when I was in I was putting a lot of pressure," Hawkins said. "Everybody sees me working hard and it's going to rub on everybody else and they're going to want to work harder. When everybody works hard, we're able to put a lot of pressure on the ball, get turnovers."
Given Hawkins' presence, it should come as little surprise the Cats turned in their best defensive performance of the season.
Robert Morris managed just 0.662 points per possession after averaging 1.165 in its first three games, shooting 23.2 percent from the field. UK forced 14 turnovers -- double the seven Michigan State committed on Tuesday -- and had 16 fast-break points after managing just two in the loss.
Hawkins had something to do with all of that.
"He just goes up and he adds energy to the game," Calipari said. "You saw how hard he runs the court so we could throw to him, so we could throw lobs, so we could throw to the post."
If the increased minutes weren't proof enough, Calipari said postgame that he is confident turning to Hawkins. His teammates, though many of them didn't know of Hawkins until he arrived this summer, have come to feel the same way.
"We all know how good Dominique is," said Aaron Harrison, who poured in a game-high 28 points. "Especially people that are from Kentucky, how he carried his team to the state championship and all that by himself. In practice he's definitely a force to be reckoned with, he's really strong, one of the most athletic guys on the team and he makes me a lot better too."
Playing on the White team in practice, Hawkins most often matchup up with Harrison, qualifying the elder of the two Harrison twins to speak on the experience of facing off against the 6-footer. Hawkins might be at a disadvantage on the practice floor when it comes to size and stars given by recruiting services, but he never backs down.
"Whoever I'm guarding, I'm pushing them and making sure they're going hard. If I'm not going hard on defense, then I'm not pushing myself," Hawkins said. "I'm pushing myself and when I'm pushing myself it's helping everybody else on the court."
In doing so, he's earned the respect of his coach and fellow Cats, as well as minutes.
Though it may come as a surprise to some he has carved out a niche so early on a team regarded by many as the most talented in the nation, Hawkins always believed he would play his way onto the floor.
"I envisioned myself playing a little bit," Hawkins said. "Not a ton, not starting, but I knew I was going to be able to find my role. Whatever my role is, I was going to just play it well."
The role, however, is a significant departure from the one to which he was accustomed in high school.
As Harrison noted, Hawkins was the featured player on a Madison Central team that won the Boys' Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena last spring. He averaged 20.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.8 steals during the tournament in catching Calipari's eye and earning an offer to attend the school he had always cheered on as a fan.
It's been an adjustment to move into a supporting role, but one he's happy to make.
"Without the ball, it does feel really weird because in high school I had it almost every time," Hawkins said. "But I like how I play with this team and it's my role not to have the ball as much. If we're able to win, I'm fine with it."
Naturally, they asked about the reason behind his limp, wondering whether his status might be affected for Kentucky's final two games.
Rumph smiled at the question, almost as if to suggest the pain wasn't even worth acknowledging.
"Just football," Rumph said.
The bumps and bruises were well-earned on Saturday, as Rumph tallied 10 tackles, including one for loss, in UK's 22-6 defeat at Vanderbilt. Coming up with stops at a rate uncharacteristic for a defensive tackle, Rumph agreed the performance was likely the best of his career.
"I think so, but I don't try to pay attention to stats," Rumph said. "I just try to do my job and just try to pull out a win for my brothers and my teammates."
Rumph may have fallen just short of that victory, but it was not for a lack of trying, particularly on the part of his defensive unit.
UK held the Commodores to 313 yards and just 3.1 yards per carry. Vanderbilt was stuck on nine points entering the fourth quarter and the Commodores' first touchdown came on a short field following one of Jalen Whitlow's four interceptions, while the other was on a fourth-down jump pass with less than a minute left and the outcome all but decided.
Vandy generated most of its offense through star receiver Jordan Matthews, who caught 12 passes for 141 yards. Adding in his 31 rushing yards, Matthews accounted for more than half of the Commodores' total offense.
"Other than that," Stoops said of Matthews' big say, "I thought defense played extremely hard and very well. A lot of good stops."
Rumph was in the middle of more than his fair share of plays, but his presence had something to do with them all. The senior seemed to inspire his teammates from the game's opening drive.
"I try to lead by action," Rumph said. "I'm not really a vocal guy on defense. I just try to lead by actions and just do my job. That's it. And just do my job. Nothing incredible, nothing extraordinary. Just do my job."
Rumph's UK career is nearing its end and his chances at playing in a bowl evaporated with last week's loss to Missouri. That doesn't mean he's about to stop.
His teammates are taking notice.
"I feel like he's fighting hard for us and it's remarkable to see the fight because we don't have anything to play for now but our team," linebacker Avery Williamson said. "These guys come out here each week still playing hard, still going for a win and I salute them for coming out and trying each week. It shows the character we have on this team."
Williamson is included in that group of seniors who are refusing to let the disappointment of a losing season sap their effort. The veterans won't be on the field to reap the benefits of the foundation for the future of UK football they are helping to build, but that doesn't diminish the importance of their role.
"That makes me feel good because those guys, they haven't quit on us," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "They're still playing, doing everything they can to help the team win and just trying to get a W. When you got seniors like that that are going to put that type of effort into it, it makes you feel good."
With just two games left in a Kentucky uniform, Rumph has begun to reflect on his four seasons in Lexington. The mounting losses are increasingly more disappointing, but Saturday is proof that Rumph isn't letting them get to him.
"It's definitely emotional, especially as a senior, knowing there's no looking back," Rumph said. "But, I mean, it's just your motivation. Be competitive in football. You can't just give up because your season's going the way you don't want it to and I can't give up on my teammates. I gotta come out and give my hardest every day."