Big Time Talent
Nov. 3, 2012
By: Carly Weisenbach, Athletics Communications
When considering the Ohio State defensive line, it is impossible to overlook junior Johnathan Hankins. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches and 322 pounds, Hankins is affectionately (and appropriately) known by his teammates as “Big Hank.” He serves as the primary defensive tackle, and in his position, size matters.
Although it pays to be a big guy on defense, Hankins made some major changes in the past year that greatly affected his physique. With the help of team dietician Sarah Wick, he has lost more than 20 pounds.
“I’ve changed the way I eat,” Hankins said. “With Sarah there to help, I’m happy where I’m at. My body feels awesome.”
The dietary changes have impacted Hankins’ game as well as his body, and it shows. He now eats six small meals a day, and he never skips breakfast. By doing this, he said he feels faster and has more energy than ever. This season, he has remained among the top defensive players in tackles and sacks. Thanks to his improved speed, he blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt against Purdue October 20. So far he has totaled 46 tackles, including three tackles for loss and a quarterback sack. He tied his career high with six total tackles against the Boilermakers, and earlier this year against UAB he tied his personal best with 10 total tackles. He said his role requires more than simply being the stopper in the defensive line.
“Being a dominant player, I have to cause havoc for the offensive line,” Hankins said. “I also have to be vocal and be a leader on defense and for the team. The coaches tell me to never worry about a bad play and always think about the next play. Just play hard and go four to six seconds from A to B and nothing can really go wrong.”
As a junior Hankins has played for three different head coaches, but in the process he has shown incredible consistency. In 2010, he was named the team’s outstanding first-year player on defense. In 2011, he started all 13 games, earned the Jack Stephenson Award as the team’s outstanding defensive lineman and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by conference coaches and the media. This season, he earned preseason All-America honors and was recently named a semifinalist for the 18th Chuck Bednarik Award for Outstanding Collegiate Defensive Player of the Year. The winner will be announced at the Home Depot College Award Show on ESPN in December.
With buzz forming around his successful career as a Buckeye, there is certainly pressure surrounding Hankins’ decision to remain in school or to declare for the NFL Draft.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “It’s going to come down to the end of the season for me to make a decision. But I know I’ll be a Buckeye forever.”