Just when recruiting appears to be coming into focus, a school or a coach does something to make things blurry again. That must be the thought running through the mind of Detroit Southeastern standout Johnathan Hankins. After strong visits to Florida and Michigan in recent weeks, the 6-2, 300-pounder tripped to Ohio State last weekend and was impressed enough to vault the Buckeyes up his list… way up.
"Now it would be Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, and Alabama," reported Hankins regarding his revised leaderboard. "I connect real well with the (Ohio State) coaches. They need D-tackles and they really want me there."
Hankins was so taken with the Scarlet & Grey after his official visit that he was on the verge offering his verbal pledge, but a timely move by arch rival Michigan slowed the commitment train down.
"I'd say that (an Ohio State commitment was on the way), but Coach Rod got here (for an in-home visit) and got a good feel of my family," said Hankins. "My mom and dad really liked him, so that made me think about (the decision) even more."
Rich Rodriguez and Michigan's Detroit area recruiter Tony Dews used the in-home to pick up where they left off during Hankins' official visit the week prior. The duo continued to paint a picture of opportunity and family atmosphere in Ann Arbor. In doing that they further strengthened the rapport they'd already begun building with Hankins and his family.
"(The in-home visit) went good," the three-star prospect said. "My family really liked (Rodriguez). They said he is a cool guy. That kind of made the process of where I'm going kind of hard because I feel comfortable with them."
"My mom and my dad, they really like Michigan right now because Coach Dews and staff there has been coming to my house and calling a lot," he continued. "They've been talking to my parents. I guess because the only (visit) I went on with them was to Michigan, so I guess after that visit they really loved it. They're waiting for me to make my pick, but I think everybody in the house kind of likes Michigan."
Hankins' boyhood affinity for the Maize & Blue and the appeal of being close to family are two factors that have a great deal to do with Michigan's recent surge. The importance of both points was emphasized with the Motor City standout during a conversation with Wolverine freshman DT William Campbell during Hankins' official visit. Long time friend and also Wolverine freshman Thomas Gordon recently reiterated that same message.
"I talked to Thomas (Monday)," Hankins reported. "I asked a few questions like when did they offer him. He told me they offered him his senior year. Then he told me it aint nothing like playing near your hometown where your family can come. That really had me thinking. Plus I know a few players that go there already. So it's kind of hard."
Despite those strong forces pulling Hankins close to home, he is doing his best to keep those emotions out of the decision. To help with that process he relies on the advice and guidance of Detroit Southeastern defensive coordinator Archie Collins
"(Collins) just wants to look up some information on the past defensive tackles that (Michigan) has got to the league because that's my dream – to play in the NFL," said Hankins detailing the advice he received from his coach. "(Collins wants) to see the statistics they've got and just get more information about them because it was a long time for them to offer me. He wants to see what that's really about. He just wants to look into it (more) before the decision."
For the moment the advantage that Ohio State currently enjoys is a result of the aforementioned issue with the timing of offers.
"(The Buckeyes) were like the first school to offer me, and ever since then they've really been on me," Hankins explained. "There has never been a time that I haven't heard from the defensive coordinator. We've got a real good relationship. Then me and Coach Tressel and then me and the players on the team, it just feels comfortable."
With so much to mull over still, determining the victor in the battle between his boyhood dream and offer timing will take a little more time than expected.
"Not this week," Hankins said regarding his decision timeline. "It was (going to take place this week), but Coach (Collins) told me to hold back on it so I'm going to listen to my coach. Now that Alabama is coming in I'm going to hear what they've got to say and see what they have to offer. (The decision) is going to be before Christmas. I think it's all going to follow this Alabama visit depending on how that goes. They are supposed to come in tomorrow -- Coach Bobby Williams and Coach Saban."
The recruiting process has obviously gotten increasingly hectic for the talented youngster in recent weeks, but he hasn't allowed it to overwhelm him. At the same time, he is happy that it will all be over soon.
"I'm level headed right now," said Hankins. "It aint too much on me. It's just probably my mom and my dad are ready for me to make a decision. They're anxious."
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Hankins in the coming days.