Not every big receiver has a knack for catching the football, but James Hanna is so gifted at catching the football that when you watch him you think you are watching a wide receiver. That is exactly what he is in high school, and that is the game within the game for college coaches as they have to try to project where a big receiver like Hanna will play in college.
Being a hybrid or flexible receiver in the college game is only a plus, and the fact that Hanna has super pass receiving skills and a body that will become big enough to play tight end will only make him more valuable in college.
Hanna transferred into Flower Mound last season after spending his freshman and sophomore years at a private school where they played six-man football. That in itself makes Hanna one of the more interesting stories in college football recruiting this year.
"Playing six-man football was actually very fun," said Hanna. "I was a linemen/receiver and the rules are a little different where I couldn't get the ball every time. I had a quarterback who could throw it 70 yards on the run, so I would basically go deep every single play and he would throw it to me. It was a big adjustment for me going to 11-man football. I went from playing every play on offense and defense to just playing on offense. I don't miss playing defense because it is nice to get a little rest, but it did take a while to get use to it."
The biggest adjustment for Hanna is learning all there is to learn about the passing game in 11-man football.
"I am still actually learning how to read the secondary," said Hanna. "I have switched from outside to inside receiver and it is a lot different reading the safety. I will be lining up in the slot a lot this season. Every once in a while, I will a line up as a legitimate tight end."
Hanna caught 20 passes for 320 yards and six touchdowns last season and despite his limited experience in 11-man football, he is being recognized as one of the top tight end prospects in the country.
"It is overwhelming, really. But I don't feel uneasy about it," said Hanna. "I find it exciting. It is certainly flattering to say the least. I have been a confident player, but not overly confident. I just play and don't think about the publicity I am getting or the attention that I am getting. It was surprising at first when people started talking about me and I started to receive some scholarship offers. I actually have improved athletically over the past year. I am a lot more athletic than I was two years ago."
"I have good speed and it is tough for teams to match-up with me," Hanna continued. "That is especially true in open field once I have the ball. I would say that I am very good in the open field."
Hanna can bench 270 pounds, squat 360 and he has a vertical jump of 33-inches. Each week, more scholarship offers keep rolling in.
"Right now my top two schools are OU and OSU, but I haven't really looked into it that much," said Hanna. " Oklahoma just offered last week and a lot of people offered earlier than that. From the beginning, they have been one of my favorite schools. They also seem to win the Big 12 Conference every year. I think I have 16 offers right now and I need to look some things over."
Hanna has also been offered by Nebraska, Arizona, Minnesota, Illinois, TCU and Alabama. Hanna said that Michigan and Notre Dame are also interest.
Hanna has qualified.