Johnathan Hankins, a defensive tackle from Detroit’s Southeastern HS, will be the 15th installment of this now 19-part series titled Better Know A Buckeye, currently in its third edition. Hankins was a curious case through the recruiting process. Uncertainty about who exactly offered was omnipresent through the recruiting process. He acquired offers from Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida, but was the sixth or seventh option for the in-state (and apparently childhood favorite) Michigan Wolverines. Michigan State passed on him outright. He is better known in this feature, in usual fashion.
High School: Southeastern HS; Detroit, TSUN
His Recruitment: Hankins was not first on Ohio State’s list at his position, nor even from the high school. The Buckeyes had a long interest in his Southeastern teammate William Gholston (Vernon’s cousin), a Michigan State commit and eventual Michigan State enrollee. Hankins appeared on Ohio State’s radar as well, culminating in some serious interest from the Buckeyes in June 2009. He mentioned Ohio State as a favorite and claimed an offer early in the month. Two weeks later, there was serious rumblings among Buckeye recruitniks that he was going to commit. He did not. The problem was not that those rumors were red herrings, per se. He apparently did not have the offer that he thought he did. It is tricky to succinctly parlay the real confusion among Buckeye fans that follow recruiting regarding the status of “Big Hank”. It is definitely one of those rare times you wish coaches could talk about recruits publicly to clear the air, but Hankins’ offer (assuming there was one) was conditional. Ohio State, perhaps like a few other programs, had some concerns about his weight and if he was going to qualify. They were definitely interested, but may have wanted to see more before they themselves committed to Hankins. All bets off regarding Ohio State, the only school to step forward and give an unconditional offer was Virginia. Al Groh needed the talent approaching a make-or-break 2009 season (he was fired anyways), even if it meant hiding non-qualifiers at Fork Union (Morgan Moses).
Buckeye fans got a better understanding of what Hankins’ status was as the summer gave way to fall. Laken Tomlinson‘s commitment to, of all places, Duke put a new emphasis on getting Hankins into the fold. He came to Columbus on an unofficial visit to get a tour. Therein, the point was driven home. Hankins knew he had to get his academic house in order, with Subtle Tressel showing Hankins around the academic facilities and some academic advisors. Subtle Tressel, being subtle, used his EA Sports’ NCAA Football ’10 academics recruiting pitch that Hankins recapped as follows.
“He said education is first there,” Hankins said. “He said if I come to Ohio State I will get my degree.”
In the meantime, Hankins had already made preparations for an unofficial visit to Ohio State for the ill-fated USC game. He made good on that vow to come to Columbus for that game (as did almost everyone). By this time, it was very clear to everyone involved that Hankins was very fond of the Buckeyes. He really liked Tressel and everyone else on the coaching staff that he was able to meet. The atmosphere for the USC game, clearly the MVP of the game, wowed Big Hank. After the fact, he told Bill Kurelic that he wanted to suit up for the Buckeyes by the end of that game. Hankins did not delve into recruiting too much for the remainder of the fall. He focused on his academics and his senior season, which ultimately culminated in a playoffs loss to Sterling Heights’ Adlai E. Stevenson (seriously) High School in the quarterfinals.
The end of his senior season of football freed Hankins to commit more time to finding a college. This roughly monthlong stretch culminating with his commitment in the first week of January, also coincides with some very interesting developments in his recruitment. By the end, it was beginning to resemble the Joseph Barksdale saga, albeit with a different set of antagonists. The Florida Gators, a trump card nowadays in most recruiting situations, flew him to Gainesville for an official visit. He left with a scholarship offer. Hankins was pretty clear through the fall that Ohio State was on top of the leaderboard. The Gators supplanted the Buckeyes after his visit to Gainesville. It did not end there. He was notified while coming back from Gainesville that Michigan was going to send the offer he always wanted1. According to the Detroit Free Press, the offer comes after Rodriguez was able to see his stamina demonstrated through the course of a season. He took a visit to Ann Arbor shortly thereafter, a quick trip approximately 40 minutes west. He already had a good feeling for Michigan. He enjoyed the visit, but nothing was ultimately new. Late into the process, Hankins wanted to take his official visit to Ohio State before making a decision.
Then Alabama came calling. Nick Saban and Bobby Williams spent many years at East Lansing, developing a network of contacts throughout Michigan that they have exploited, with much success, in the form of Mark Ingram. Being the undefeated SEC champions playing for a national title probably carries some sway too. The visit and offer to Hankins came with a new interest in William Gholston as well, coinciding with some uncertainty in his recruitment. A hopeful visit to Tuscaloosa never materialized, leaving Ohio State with his last official visit on December 11th. The visit catapulted Ohio State back on top of Florida, confining Michigan to a clear, distant third place. Rodriguez made an in-house visit with Hankins immediately after he finished his official visit at Ohio State. It should have been clear to Rodriguez, though. If he did not commit to Michigan when he made his official visit there, he was not going to commit now.
His Commitment: The Buckeyes’ victory in the Rose Bowl was followed with the first recruiting dividend, Johnathan Hankins’ commitment.
Hankins commitment gave the Buckeyes a nice rebound from losing Shariff Floyd to Florida a few days earlier. It also gives the Buckeyes a nice recruiting victory over Rich Rodriguez, who had gone all out through December in trying to get his commitment. Hankins’ decision to receive sanctuary in The Great State of Ohio from That State Up North comes as a result of several factors making Ohio State the most appropriate choice. Ohio State had academic facilities to Hankins’ liking and had developed a good rapport with Jim Heacock and Jim Tressel. Further, Ohio State for a Michigander can be a change of scenery that is still ultimately close to home. I think Hankins was always going to remain close to home if he could. Columbus is just down the road. He also mentioned the following:
“Seeing them in the Rose Bowl, I wanted to be part of that,” Hankins said. “I want to help them win a National Championship.
Nothing to it but to do it.
Where He Excels: I like when I do these features after they already enrolled. I get to update my prior expectations about how they will perform at the college level with new information about how they are actually performing at the college level.
Hankins is the defensive tackle most Buckeye fans have wanted for some time. He is also the type of defensive tackle that has Buckeye fans smelling blood after seeing what their version of the 3-4 can do to opposing offensive lines. He is not the Adam Bellamy-type of defensive tackle prospect, but rather a two-gapping big ol’ boy that can plug spaces and allow linebackers to blitz and ultimately raise ungodly hell in the backfield. Far from just a simple space eater, Hankins is fairly quick for being a big ol’ boy. Hustle is always something you want more and more of for a lineman of his size, but I already see things here to my liking.
Must Work On: Hankins will have to be ever vigilant regarding his frame while playing for Ohio State. It is too easy to pack on pounds and he will want to add only “good weight”. If he is too big, he is too slow and struggling too much to move his weight around the line of scrimmage. Everyone is happy with how he showed up, but he has been openly fatigued through some stretches in the heat, humidity and the grind of practice.
I think he is a bit raw, though he had impressed enough to be getting serious praise. He is a big kid that will need to be mindful that they come bigger on the other side of the ball at the college level. His pad level can rise during plays, and when he is tired (naturally). Remember: low man wins in football. Stand up and be escorted by an offensive lineman into the secondary.
Redshirt? If I had penned this feature three months earlier, I would say he very likely redshirts. Now, he is on the two deep at the defensive tackle/nose tackle position currently occupied by Dex Larimore. Good job, young man. I like being wrong under these circumstances.
Highlights: This is junior year film and is the best I could find.
- His high school’s team nickname is the Jungaleers. The origin of the nickname, as best as I can tell, comes from the fact that the Great Lakes are bordered by fairly swampy lands. The high school was placed on a part of Detroit that was largely underdeveloped and resembled a “jungle”. Saying you were going to the high school was akin to saying you were “going to the jungle”. The nickname for the school’s athletics apparently comes from that.
- Their league, Detroit Public 1, includes Cass Tech. Cass Tech, home of the “Technicians”, is Vernon Gholston’s alma mater.
- Video interview from signing day: here.
- I wrote his recruitment piece from an Ohio State perspective. He also acquired offers from Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Toledo and Bowling Green, according to Rivals.
- I was confused for the longest time just exactly how you spell his first name. Scout and Rivals spelled it differently, with Scout going with Johnathan and Rivals going with Johnathon. The former is apparently correct and listed on Ohio State’s website.
- Official bio says he was also in drama club. Very cool.
- Vital statistics, courtesy of Bucknuts.
* Vital Statistics: Hankins was a four-year starter at nose guard for Southeastern. As a senior, he had 85 tackles and 12 sacks. As a junior, he registered 85 tackles (55 solo) and nine sacks.
* Rankings: Hankins is rated as the nation’s 49th-best defensive tackle by ESPN Scouts Inc. SuperPrep ranks him as the 33rd-best prospect in the Midwest and the ninth-best prospect in Michigan. The Detroit News ranks Hankins as the No. 5 prospect in Michigan.
I think Big Hank is now better known.
|Class of 2010|
|Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?||Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?|
|Darryl Baldwin||DE||Solon, OH||05.25||James Louis||WR||Delray Beach, FL||06.21|
|Drew Basil||K||Chillicothe, OH||05.17||Scott McVey||LB||Cleveland, OH||05.03|
|Corey Brown 2010||ATH||Springfield, PA||08.08||JT Moore||DE||Youngstown, OH||02.15|
|Christian Bryant||DB||Cleveland, OH||Andrew Norwell||OL||Cincinnati, OH||03.29|
|David Durham||LB/DE||Charlotte, NC||04.12||Verlon Reed||ATH||Columbus, OH||08.24|
|Taylor Graham||QB||Wheaton, IL||05.08||Bradley Roby||DB||Suwanee, GA|
|Adam Griffin||ATH||Columbus, OH||Roderick Smith||RB||Fort Wayne, IN||05.13|
|Chad Hagan||LB/S||Canonsburg, PA||07.06||Jamel Turner||DE||Fork Union, VA||03.08|
|Johnathan Hankins||DT||Detroit, TSUN||08.29||Tyrone Williams||WR||Cleveland, OH||07.09|
|Carlos Hyde||RB||Naples, FL||06.29.09|
- The intensity of the interest in the Wolverines is probably a function of which Michigan scout/fan you interview, but everything I read suggested that Michigan was the team he followed growing up. [↩]