Hankins Aiming For Early Impact

Ohio State literally landed a big recruit when Johnathan Hankins signed with the program on National Signing Day. Now about to start his college career, Hankins talked to BuckeyeSports.com about his academic standing, his weight goals and when the coaches are telling him he might see the field in Columbus.

With his academic goals achieved, Johnathan Hankins has been focused on another challenge during the final weeks of high school.

That would be the challenge of dealing with his weight. After having weighed upwards of 330 pounds, the defensive tackle from Detroit Southeastern said he is focused on controlling his weight as he gets in shape to start his college career at Ohio State.

"Now that I know what school I'm going to I'm just working on getting into shape," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "That's all I've really been doing. I've been doing some shuttle work, cone drills, a lot of 20-yard sprints, 40-yard sprints, gassers and stuff the coaches told me I should be prepared to do."

A three-star prospect as ranked by Scout.com, Hankins chose the Buckeyes in early January and subsequently signed with them on National Signing Day. Scout ranks him No. 48 at his position nationally.

The authenticity of Hankins' offer from OSU was debated throughout his early recruitment due to his grades, but he said that is no longer a problem. Hankins said he scored a 19 on the ACT and carries a high-enough grade-point-average to guarantee his admission to OSU.

Continuing along those lines, he listed one of his primary goals for his Buckeye career as being in the classroom.

"One of my goals is to make academic all-conference," he said. "I want to be on my grades real hard and in the books and then get my strength up and my speed and then I think my talent will carry me from there."

Hankins has completed his finals and is now just waiting for June 9, his date of graduation. When he arrives at OSU, Hankins said he will be rooming with fellow defensive lineman Darryl Baldwin as well as one other player whose name he could not remember.

With his weight at 315 pounds right now, Hankins said he envisions dropping a few more when he gets to Columbus.

"(The OSU coaches) set a weight goal but they said I'm good at 315," he said. "When I get down there I'll be going to camp so I might end up losing another 10 pounds so my weight is good where it's at for now."

On signing day, defensive coordinator and line coach Jim Heacock discussed what he would like to see Hankins weigh as a Buckeye.

"Body fat is always the key to me," he said. "I'd like him at 310 (pounds) if his body weight is down. You don't want him carrying a lot of extra weight. I always like getting him down to about 295 and then adding muscle and getting back up to about 310, 315."

The past few months have been spent generally working on exploding out of his stance, he said.

The Buckeyes will replace five members of last year's defensive line. Even at 315 pounds, Hankins will enter OSU as the biggest defensive lineman with two current Buckeyes listed at 310 pounds in the team's spring media guide.

As such, Hankins said Heacock has told him to expect to play this fall.

"He's just pressing on me staying in shape and getting ready to play because he says I'm going to play early," he said. "It was really surprising because I always thought I'd have to redshirt but the way last year's team looked and with all the guys who graduated, they said it would be good to come in and play early since they had a lot of people leave."

Asked what he gives the Buckeyes, Hankins said, "a big body that can stop the run."

In his conversations with Heacock, Hankins said the OSU assistant has already started talking up the team's defensive line verbal commitments for the class of 2011. Four of the team's 11 known commitments are projected as defensive linemen.

"I look at the 2011 class and we're looking good for the next couple of years," Hankins said. "I check on them and the last time coach (Heacock) came he really talked about the 2011 class. Most of the kids are from Ohio and I was kind of surprised with how much talent there is in Ohio and how we're going to be looking these next few years is looking real good."

Hankins, most of his recruiting class and a number of prospects who could join next year's team were all in attendance for OSU's spring game. While there, Hankins said he got to spend time with Terrelle Pryor and Cameron Heyward but that the biggest impression left on him was from the thousands of Buckeye fans in attendance.

"The overall atmosphere was great," he said. "The fans are real true to the players. Everybody loves the football team. I found that out. I signed a lot of autographs – more than I expected."

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