Rob Hankins may be the most physically gifted signee in the class of 2011, but that hasn't stopped him from trying to take his game to even higher levels during his offseason before he heads to Tucson in June.
"Physically, I'm lifting four to five times a week," Hankins said. "I also have track practice Monday through Thursday if I don't have a track meet. I'm also working out two, maybe three times a week with an ex-NFL tight end named Patrick Hughes.
"Coach Kish sent me a linebacker DVD with all of the drills he does with his own linebackers, and I've given that to him and we've incorporated a lot of that into our own workouts. With him I never lift, it's all football based agility and speed work."
With R.J. Young and Trevor Erno leaving the program during spring practice, there are huge vacancies at the linebacker position for Arizona this fall. Coach Kish has alerted Hankins to the situation and let him know he has a great opportunity at some playing time, a chance that he believes he'll be ready for by the fall.
"He's told me I'm going to have to come in and start getting ready to play right away," Hankins said. "I hope I'm ready, and I'm going to do everything I can to be ready. When August comes, I believe I'll be ready to play. Just getting to play as a freshman is such a huge deal, and I couldn't want anything more that that. When the time comes, I'll be ready."
If he proves up to the task, Hankins credits his upbringing for his readiness to compete at the college level.
"My family and my coaches have done everything they can to get me ready for college," Hankins said. "That's not just football; it's with the academic pressure, along with the social pressure, and also the football. With all of the other freshman coming in, I think I'll be on par with where I need to be to take on that load."
Even before this most recent opportunity to get playing time, Hankins admits he believed he'd get a shot to get on the field in some capacity during his freshman year.
"I expected to play," Hankins said. "I knew that I could be on special teams at least and maybe if I do well when I show up I could split time or get on the field. Now that these two linebackers have left, I'm looking at a lot greater chance of splitting time. Starting might be a far off goal because there's a senior linebacker in front of me for my position, and he's really good."
In light of the recent changes on the roster and their implications for Hankins and the other linebackers in the class of 2011, Hankins says that his goals for next season are beginning to take shape.
"My goal has always been to play," Hankins said. "I guess that looks like there's a very good chance of that happening. I guess my next goal would be maybe eventually to start later on in the season. My position is not set in stone, coach Kish could still move me around to any other linebacker position.
"There's a chance I could maybe move ahead of somebody, or God forbid, if something happens the next person in line could be me."
With all that is on the line for Hankins next fall, it's easy to see why he's so excited to make it to Tucson and suit up as an Arizona Wildcat.
"I can't wait, June can't come fast enough for me," Hankins said. "It's kind of a sad time for my family and for my close friends, but it is a really exciting time for me and June can't come fast enough."
Hankins plans on contributing right away
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