Yesterday, I wrote about Geno Stone being the prototypical Iowa diamond in the rough. An under recruited player with a chip on his shoulder that comes into this program and becomes a lightning rod for the defense. And every single word I wrote yesterday can be copy and pasted directly in this piece and it would all remain true about Matt Hankins.
The Texas native (who just so happens to be Stone’s roommate) has the same will to prove every single doubter wrong. He’s also out to stop the ribbing from his teammates this season who are reportedly giving him the business for being the only member of what I’m officially deeming the “Birds of Prey” without an interception.
Don’t be surprised if he gets that done Week 1.
Most interceptions the last two seasons, via @BTNStatsGuys:— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) August 4, 2019
1. @HawkeyeFootball (41)
2. BC (36)
3. App State, Cal, Troy, Utah State (35) pic.twitter.com/S8zIbPgYoi
Matt Hankins — Junior
Lewisville, TX (Marcus)
6’0”, 185 lbs
2019 Projection: Starting CB
Michael Ojemudia, Matt Hankins, Julius Brents, Terry Roberts and Riley Moss. Five guys that are more than capable of starting major Big Ten football games at the cornerback/CASH position. That’s also five guys that are constantly pushing the envelope day in and day out at practice. In eight days, you should fully trust that the starting cornerback duo of Ojemudia and Hankins will be prepared and ready to shut down their respective sides of the field.
Hankins, unlike some of his other positional teammates has been somewhat forgotten this offseason. Google his name and any mention of him is in relation to Ojemudia or Stone (or the Buffalo Wild Wings being a fast food restaurant debate that has swept Iowa Nation). That’s probably because of the lack of flashy, highlight plays. But don’t discredit him. He’s more than ready and capable of becoming an all-conference type of corner this season.
Look at his resume since coming into the program. Outside of a wrist injury that kept him out a few games last season (which fortunately gave Moss and Brents valuable experience themselves), Hankins has been the model of consistency. In his two seasons, he’s tallyed up 69 total tackles (NICE) and four PBUs. Sure, he might not have the interceptions (YET) or any sacks (A.J. Epenesa can handle all of that), but he’s been a problem for opposing quarterbacks by shutting down his side of the field with aggressive, fundamental technique. Plus, he’s spent the offseason learning both the CASH and safety positions allowing Parker to deploy him at any secondary position if things get weird.
I’ll take that guy all day, every day.
The tackling and shadowing is elite and you have to assume that the gamebreaking plays will come (I wouldn’t be shocked if it all clicks for him this season given the defensive line for Iowa creating a ton of pressure). Even if they don’t, he’s the model Hawkeye defender and is an integral part of this defense going into 2019.
Plus, how can you not believe in a guy that argues (correctly) that Buffalo Wild Wings is NOT a fast food restaurant?