« Byrd loaded with talent -- and swagger | Main | Top 60 Countdown: No. 36, DT Micanor Regis »

Top 60 Countdown: No. 37, WR Leonard Hankerson

As we move ahead in our countdown of the Top 60 players at The U, we take a look at the 37th-ranked player on our list: Receiver Leonard Hankerson. The junior has always had the physical tools to succeed. But it's hanging onto the ball that has plagued him. Will things change in 2009? Or, will Hankerson get passed up by the talented young, up-and-coming players behind him?

Leonard Hankerson > What we heard about him on Signing Day '07: Hankerson was chosen as Broward's Male Athlete of the Year for Class 6A-4A by our paper after starring on the football field, track and basketball court. Hankerson led St. Thomas Aquinas to three straight state title games, catching 39 passes for 803 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. He was rated the 43rd best receiver in the country by Rivals.com, 28th by Scout.com and chose the Canes over Ohio State, Michigan and Georgia.

> What he's done as a Cane: The transition from high school star to college star hasn't panned out the way Hankerson has hoped. In his first two seasons, he's caught a combined 17 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns. But it's his drops that stand out more than his catches. At 6-3, 215-pounds most expected Hankerson to be able to hold onto more passes -- considering its what his strength was coming out of high school. But that just hasn't been the case. Physically, he has gifts. He ran a 4.48 40 this past spring -- fourth fastest among receivers. His vertical leap of 37 inches is tops among receivers as is his 295-pound bench press.

> What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: Getting a chance to watch practice this spring confirmed what we saw on Saturdays from Hankerson. Game day isn't the only day he has trouble hanging onto the ball. This offseason, however, No. 85 has been spending a lot of time with another No. 85 -- former Dolphins receiver Mark Duper -- to try and put an end to the drops. UM coaches say they have been encouraged by his improvement. But the bottomline is Hankerson has to find a remedy if his career is going to move forward. Receiver is without question UM's deepest and most talented position. With sophomores LaRon Byrd and Aldarius Johnson expected to be entrenched in starting roles, Hankerson will most likely get most of his catches off the bench. But if others emerge -- like redshirt freshman Tommy Streeter -- he could find himself fourth on the depth chart among the guys lining up on the outside. If that's the case, Hankerson might not end up on the Canes' short receiver rotation at all.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

1st. burr

Mark my words...Hankerson will have a least one HUGE play this year which will forever be cemented in Canes highlight history.

If Hankerson starts to hang on to the ball he'll start. He's just as physically gifted as the "Byrdman" & last fall he won the starting position. Stay tuned...

The WR competition in the fall should be INTENSE! Man, do we have a lot of talent and depth there.

Hank doesn't have it! Howerver, he will always be a Cane!

LByrd, AJohnson, TBenjamin, TStreeter, KThomkins and the BTW 2 (Collier & Johnson) are all better!

Why the hell didn't any of the receivers coaches CATCH that he had his hands positioned incorrectly (no pun intended)??? That is the job of the receivers coach to spot this and make the adjustments.

- CVS

I'm a diehard Canes fan but as CVS hinted, I'm more worried about some of our position coaches. Not necessarily Coach Shannon (yet and I've been pulling for him even when he was DC) but more our O Line coach, D Line coach, LBs coach, secondary coach, special teams coach, and so on.

I see a lot of talent coming through the program but it takes coaches - that's what they get paid for after all - to make talented players into effective players.

Randy should do the same thing for the RBs that he's doing for recievers. Just tell em if they dont perform, they don't travel, simple as that. It'll make coaching easier and it'll make kids play better.

Maybe Randy finally got some experienced hard nosed coaches in Whipple and Lovett. The U was close last yr. to taking a step up, this yr. I look for a big jump up, reasoning if the U played well with inexperience and bad coaching last yr, than this yr. is a huge gain.

Don't blame the position coaches for Hank's failure to live up to the hype. Hand positioning??? He's a receiver, SEE BALL, GET BALL. It's that simple. His biggest problem isn't hand positioning, it's all mental!

If he can toughen up mentally, the dropped passes will become a thing of the past with him. Only then will Hank play like the big-time WR we all thought he could be when he first signed on.

go canes

@dlu:
I'm hopin & wishin that you're right. Makes sense that the position coaches will (hopefully) only get better with the experience they earned and the experience of the players.

@Tony Shoes:
I hear you about it being the main responsibility of any of the players to better themselves. I just wonder if the coaches are able to motivate some of these guys to do just that - improve. I wouldn't know obviously and I'm guessing the coaches don't sit around drinking koolaid so maybe you're on the mark there about the players.

CVS: good observation, but don't make a pun, in all caps, and then say you had no intention because it seems like you did.

Hank should get a chance because of his physical abilities, and if he proves unworthy, then so be it. There's five other wideouts, dying to make a play.

Go Canes!!!

TOTALLY AGREE W/ TONY SHOES

WHAT DOES A RECEIVER DO?

CATCH THE DANG BALL! NOTHING MORE NOTHING ELSE!

Sam Shields had that problem, and so did a few others the last 2 yrs. I could give a flying --- if they run a 3-9 40-! Whats the use if they cant catch the rock?


If Hanky has the dropsies again in fall practice, there is one less receiver in the rotation. Plain and simple. I'm tired of this---. When did #47 or thrill hill, or reggie, or Sinorice, or Snatana or AJ drop balls? RU kidding me?

Santana had a big bomb drop against FSU.

Santana might have had that big drop against FSU back in '98 BUT, he also came through with numerous clutch plays that saved THE U's backside. Mr. Hankerson needs to show a drop here or there isn't gonna prevent him from making the game-winning TD catch when they need him to.

"Supernatural" Santana Moss, my favorite Cane of all-time.

LARON BYRD IS THE BEST WR HE HAVE AND JOHNSON IS 2ND BEST. BREAKOUT YEAR FOR BOTH... BYRD WILL HAVE THE MOST TD OUT OF ALL ARE WR

Dear Manny, I appreciated it after you defended me after Coach Shannon fabricated the details of my death. He called me one of his best friends and then in that interview told you I had died from injuries incurred in an attack in gainesville. Of coouse I died after a long illness in Dade County. I guess at a time athletes were dropping like flies in Dade County that Shannon wanted to portray Gainesville as comparably dangerous. Kind of chicken blank but I appreciated you sticking up for me. What did you personally think of the integrity of a person who would do that.

The comments to this entry are closed.