Hankins Officially Entering 2013 NFL Draft
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — All-Big Ten Conference defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins had a big decision to make after his junior season at Ohio State. In the end, it wasn’t much of a decision at all.
Photo by Dan Harker
Hankins, who anchored the middle of Ohio State’s defensive line for the past three seasons, is being projected as a first round pick in next April’s NFL Draft, and he intends to test those waters.
The junior out of Dearborn Heights, Mich. announced Monday he will forego his senior season of eligibility with the Buckeyes and make himself available for the 2013 NFL Draft and an opportunity to continue his career at the next level.
“I have decided, with the support of my family, to forego my senior season at Ohio State in order to enter the NFL Draft,” Hankins said in a statement Monday.
“I will always be grateful for the family I have gained here at Ohio State.”
Hankins, 20, appeared in 38 games the past three years and started all 25 games during the 2011 and 2012 seasons – his sophomore and junior seasons in Columbus. He was fourth on the team in tackles in 2011 with 67 stops, including 11 tackles-for-loss (-24 yards), and this past season he ranked fifth with 55 tackles, including 4.0 TFLs (-22).
“I have enjoyed coaching and getting to know Johnathan Hankins over the past year,” said first-year Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
“His hard work on and off the field has given him an opportunity to move on to the next level. The coaching staff and I wish him all the best.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
The 6-3, 322-pound Hankins was only a 3-star prospect coming out of Southeastern High School in Detroit, Mich. back in 2010. Because he weighed upwards of 350 pounds in high school, Hankins had a hard time getting offers from Michigan and Michigan State, two schools that are kicking themselves for letting Big Hank sneak across the border to play for Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes.
Hankins was originally looking at the possibility of playing for Urban Meyer when he was still at Florida. He received an offer from the Gators after visiting Gainesville, but ultimately opted for a commitment to Tressel and former OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock in December of 2009.
“I want to thank coach Meyer, coach Vrabel and strength coach Marotti for bringing the best out of me as a football player and person, and for their constant support,” Hankins continued.
“I also want to thank coach Tressel and coach Heacock for recruiting me and giving me an opportunity to be a part of this great school and great program.”
Hankins, who wraps up his Ohio State career with 138 tackles (58 solos; 80 assists), including 16.5 TFLs (-55 yards) and five quarterback sacks, was a member of four prestigious award/trophy watch lists entering the 2012 season – the Lombardi, Outland, Bednarik and Nagurski.
As a freshman in 2010, Hankins played in all 13 games and was named the team’s outstanding first-year player on defense. He was Ohio State’s Jack Stephenson Award winner as the team’s outstanding defensive lineman in 2011, and this past year he was named all-Big Ten by the league’s coaches after making things miserable for opposing offenses all season despite constant double teams.
“My three years at The Ohio State University have provided amazing experiences for me, and they are years I will never forget or take for granted,” Hankins said.
“My plans are to return to finish my degree and to continue to be a part of this brotherhood of Buckeyes. I am so appreciative for the support I have received from my teammates, the coaching staff and administrators at Ohio State, and of course, my family.”
Hankins has been projected as high as a top five pick in next April’s NFL Draft. Other draft prognosticators have him going in the middle of the first round, but either way, a 320-pound defensive tackle who moves like Hankins is hard to come by.
Even in the NFL.
With Hankins gone, the Buckeyes are still awaiting final decisions from cornerback Bradley Roby, a redshirt sophomore, and tailback Carlos Hyde, a true junior who spent a year at Fork Union Military Academy.
Both players have until mid-January to make their decision before the official NFL deadline for underclassmen to declare.
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