As we inch closer to the final days to kick off, State of the U will be highlighting each day with a player from the past and current that wears the jersey number for the given day. Today there are only (only….) 85 days to kickoff so we’ll look back at former wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and current tight end Jovani Haskins.
Hankerson really grew into his role as the “go to” receiver for Miami when he came into his third and fourth years on the grid iron. In his junior season Hankerson caught 45 receptions for 801 yards and six touchdowns. To finish off his career at Miami, simply put, he became a beast. In his senior year, Hankerson caught 72 passes for 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns. The notoriety from his last season won him First Team All ACC recognition as well as Team Captaincy throughout the 2010 campaign.
After the 2010 season concluded, Hankerson graduated and was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He had mixed success as a pro.
As a rookie in 2011, Hankerson incurred numerous injuries and only played a handful of games, he eventually landed on the IR in November. In 2012 Hankerson was able to stay healthy for the entire season and, not coincidentally, had his best year as a pro amassing 38 receptions for 543 yards and three trips to the end zone. After becoming a starter late in the 2012 season, Hankerson held on to the same position heading into 2013 but again was befallen by the injury bug, this time a torn ACL during week 11. Hankerson ended the 2013 season with a modest 30 receptions for 375 yards and three scores.
Due to the season long rehabilitation Hankerson endured at the end of the 2013 season, 2014 was all but lost for Hankerson. He played in only a few games in 2014 due to the fact he was added to the active roster in November off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.
As the 2014 season ended, the Redskins franchise reviewed Hankerson’s impact on the field and decided to not extend his rookie contract. Hankerson would then be signed and released over the next four seasons by three separate teams. The Falcons signed Hankerson to a one year contract but he ended on the Injured Reserve list due to chronic hamstring injuries, he was released towards the end of the season (December 15th). On the very next day, December 16th, the Patriots signed Hankerson and he took part in one game. 10 days later he was released. Three days after the Patriots released Hankerson, the Bill signed him and kept him on the roster to end the 2015 season.
If you’re counting at home, in 2015 Hankerson played for the Falcons for most of the season then was released due to hamstring injuries. The Patriots took a gamble on the gimpy Henderson and he was able to assist them in one contest before being subsequently released a few days later. To finish of the 2015 season, for a week or so, the Bills signed Hankerson to fill out their roster.
Essentially, in the month of December in 2015 Hankerson played for three different organizations.
What potentially could be the end of Hankerson’s career, at the beginning of the 2016 preseason, Hankerson was released after the first preseason game by the Bills. No other team in the NFL signed Hankerson to their active roster or practice squad.
Besides the injuries that seemed to creep up and bite Hankerson throughout his pro career, dropping balls was always an issue as well. When he was a Cane I would call Hankerson a “volume pass catcher” similar to a “volume shooter” in basketball. He needed to be involved in the offensive passing attack a lot to be able to be effective because he tended to drop passes. In his best season in Washington for example he caught 38 passes… on 57 targets. To be a go-to passing option in the pro’s, the pass catching percentage has to be higher than 66.
The current Hurricane who wears the jersey number 85 is Jovani Haskins. Haskins is heading into his redshirt freshman season so he hasn’t made an impact on the field as of yet. Haskins hails from New Jersey and was an athletic freak in the high school ranks. Besides needing a year to acclimate to the college game on the field, it seems that Haskins needed to adjust to the college surroundings off the field as well. Haskins had a run in or two during his freshman season that saw him suspended for the bowl game.
Looking ahead to the 2017 season, Haskins has an opportunity to be a contributor at the tight end position. With the recent loss of David Njoku to the pro ranks, the slack has to be picked up by one or all the tight ends next season so Haskins will potentially get valuable playing time in 2017.
What’s your take on Hankerson and Haskins? Leave a comment or two below!