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?
> 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.