Most Important Buckeyes: No. 3
By Tony Gerdeman
If you are the type of person who partakes in the internet – and you are – you'll find our third-most important Buckeye's name littered all over the NFL mock drafts that occupy roughly 7% of the entire world wide web.
Johnathan Hankins (6-3 322) is the best type of Buckeye player – one that Michigan passed on that comes back to haunt them. Hankins, a native of that state up north, has been an impactful player from the day he arrived on Ohio State's campus.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Plugged in at nose tackle as a freshman, he ended up being the Buckeyes' most outstanding first-year player on defense. He only made 16 tackles, but it was his ability to be a wall against the run where he was a difference maker.
Now he is an All-American candidate and people are wondering if he will forgo his senior season and leave for the NFL. For his part, however, Hankins said that he has no plans to leave early because he wants to stay and win a national championship. Of course, that was before he was aware that the NFL saw him as a hot commodity.
What Makes Him Important
Hankins has everything that you could want in a defensive tackle. He's big, strong, quick off the ball, relentless and absolutely willing to work.
He's dropped upward of thirty pounds in his time in Columbus, and has done it because it makes him a better player, and makes the Buckeyes a better defense.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He still has the size to not only occupy blockers, but he has the strength to push the offense the wrong way. Without a double team, it's almost impossible to keep him from pushing his way into the backfield.
Even worse for the opposing offensive line, he explodes off of
the line and surprises blockers with his quickness. His pursuit is fantastic as well. Hankins finished with a very impressive 67 tackles and 14 tackles for loss last season.
On a team with a question mark at middle linebacker, having a guy like Hankins playing defensive tackle makes things a little bit easier for those players behind him.
What Can Be Expected Of Him
Now lighter than he has been since sometime early in his high school career, Hankins is quicker than ever, and still one of the three strongest players on the team.
More of what we saw last year should be expected of him this season, and don't be surprised if he doubles his sack total to six in 2012.
The success of the Ohio State defense starts up front, and if offenses can't run up the middle on the Buckeyes because of Hankins, then the Buckeyes will have already cut down on half of what an opponent's running game can do.
The more predictable an offense becomes, the less productive it will be. Not that Buckeye fans have to be told that.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him
Without Johnathan Hankins, there's a possibility that sophomore Michael Bennett would have had to stay inside to play Hankins' three technique position. The coaches would then have to find a replacement for Bennett, which may have involved moving a Leo over to strongside defensive end.
The real impact of not having Hankins isn't simply having to shuffle a lineup, it's losing one of the most disruptive forces against the run in the nation. If a defense can stop the run, stopping the pass becomes much easier. That's what Hankins provides. He's a one-stop shop for defensive advantages.
However, even with Hankins, a defense still has to tackle. If the Buckeyes don't tackle again this year, then having or not having "Big Hank" wouldn't really matter.
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