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Q&A with Leonard Hankerson

In case you missed today's Miami Herald, Joseph Goodman authored an intriguing story on Florida safety Major Wright and his decision not to go to Miami. I provided the quotes from UM receiver Leonard Hankerson, who has been friends with Major since the 10th grade.

I figured I'd share the rest of Sunday's interview I had with Hank, who hauled in UM's first passing touchdown of the season last week from Jacory Harris.

Before I get to it though, a reminder for you to check out the audio interviews I've been uploading from yesterday. I've been swamped with work this week and haven't had a chance to compile a write up for you yet, but if you want to listen in on what was being said -- straight out of UM's players mouths and coach Randy Shannon for that matter -- visit our UM Audio Page. I'll have some videos up for you later this afternoon.

Q: How did you and Major meet? I heard you guys lived close to one another? Were you supposed to go to the same school together before you ended up at St. Thomas?
I've known Major since I was in the 10th grade. We both transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas after our freshman year. He moved down from Tallahassee. He lived a street away from me. We both were supposed to be going to Dillard.

We became friends right away. Since he lived right behind me, I would walk to his house in the mornings and catch a ride with him to school. Bobby Crawford used to come and pick us up and we'd right out together.

Q: How close were you guys? Did you hang out a lot?
A: We always hung out. There were sleepovers at each other's houses. We were always together. We'd go and play basketball. We really weren't into video games or things like that. It was always sports.

Q: What kinf of guy is Major off the field?
A: People don't know Major is a funny guy. He's a comedian. He's always joking and making people laugh. He's not going to crack on people, more jokes.

Q: Are you guys real close, like a brother?
A: Yes. I consider Major another brother to me. We always used to stay around each other. I've got 3 sisters and 2 brothers and Major had three sisters. We were always around each other.

Q: What was the neighborhood like where you guys grew up?
A: It was a tough neighborhood where we grew up. But we were able to survive because we knew what we wanted in life. We always knew playing football and doing the right things, doing your job could mean big things. As long as you stayed focused, the fights, the shooting, the robberies, all that, didn't even get into the picture.

Q: I know Major has a reputation for being a hitter. He ever lay you out? What's the most amazing hit you've seen him do.
A: He's never hit me before. Honest. There was one time in practice where he had a chance to, but he let up on me because we were friends. He's a good player, a hardworker. When he goes at full speed, he's an amazing hitter. There are so many hits that stand out to me. I remember my senior year we were playing our spring game. Major was in Cover 2. [First name?] Johnson came over the middle and Major just laid him out. It was the loudest bang I've ever heard on a football field. He did it again in a playoff game when they played Ely. He smacked this guy head on and just jarred the ball loose. He's a hitter.

Q: What kind of things would Major do for you as his friend? Was he good at giving advice? Did he hook you up with things?
A: I really didn't have a lot of money. In my house, we had eight people living with us in three bedrooms. Between my brothers and sisters and my godbrother, we struggled a lot. Major always used to spot me when I needed stuff. He would buy me lunch sometimes. He would pay for me to ride jet skis when we would go do that stuff. I remember one day, I was working up in Hollywood and I didn't have a ride to practice. Major drove all the way across town to get me. That's the kind of friend he is.

Q: Did you guys ever talk about going to college together?
A: We never talked about college stuff like that because we respected each other. We knew we both wanted to go to great programs.

Q: Have you spoken to him in the past week?
A: Yes. He called me about three days before we played Charleston Southern. It was just you know, 'How you doing? Stuff like that.' We didn't talk about the game or anything like that. We know we're playing each other.

Q: Are you real excited about the matchup?
A: I want to win bad. Not because its Major. But because right now, nobody in the nation respects Miami. It's a big game for us and for them. What Louis Murphy said really pumped us up. We had the article posted all over our locker room. We want to beat their whole team.

Q: Did you watch the last Gators game?
A: No. But I listened to it on the radio. I heard when Major got his interception and returned it for a touchdown. I was happy for him.