Washington High School head football coach Jay Johnson talks about Mississippi State signee John Michael Hankerson

Mississippi State signed 18 talented football players for their 2016 signing class. Coach Dan Mullen and his staff expanded their recruiting footprint signing players from six states, including one from Indiana. John Michael Hankerson became the first Indiana High Schooler to ink with the Bulldogs since the class of 2008 when State signed tight end Nelson Hurst.

While Hurst spent most of his life in the Hoosier State, John Michael Hankerson was an Indiana transplant. After two years at Southaven High School, Hankerson made the move north from DeSoto County, Mississippi to South Bend, Indiana and enrolled at Washington High School.

WHS head football coach Jay Johnson was more than a little excited about adding a state champion in the 100 meters to his active football roster. 

"He is an explosive player and he has been since he got here," Johnson said. "He really helped us on both sides of the ball. With his speed, he can do a lot of things and we moved him around some. He made a lot of players out at receiver, but he did really good job for us on defense too."

On the season, Hankerson had 927 offensive yards and nine scores to go along with 77 tackles and two interceptions despite missing some time early in the season. Coach Jay Johnson reports that Hankerson could make plays on either side of the ball on the college level as well.

"I think with his mentality and desire to hit people, that he might end up as a corner or a free safety," Johnson said. "I could see him playing offense though, because of his speed. He gives them options and in that offense they could find a way to use him, because of how well he runs. I think where he plays is just going to really depend on what their needs are.

"He's not a small guy. He's over six foot and he has some size, so he's going to be able to add some weight and he'll only get stronger."

Heading into the spring, Hankerson will be looking to win the state championship in the 100 meters for the third straight time. As a sophomore, Hankerson won the 6A state title in his native Mississippi for Southaven High School. During his junior campaign, Hankerson won the 4A crown in the state of Indiana.

Many schools recruited Hankerson to participate in both football and track. In the end, the call home to the Magnolia State to wear the Maroon and White was simply more than Hankerson could pass on.

"He kept an open mind for a while," Coach Johnson said of Hankerson. "As it got closer to the end, you could tell he really wanted to go to Mississippi State. That's a good opportunity for him and we're proud for him.

"He came in here and worked hard and he has some real talent. He knows what he needs to do and he has chance to get down and have a good career."

Hankerson was the lone official visitor the final weekend before national signing day. The fleet footed standout got off the plane from South Bend ready to verbally commit to the Bulldogs. Over the course of the weekend, the three star athlete followed through on this intentions and few days later Hankerson officially became a Bulldog. 

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