And just like that the Wildcats addressed one of their biggest recruiting needs. The Wildcats had some gaps in their linebacking corps, which led to some unbalanced classes. With the commitment of Dallas’ Rob Hankins, more of those gaps are erased.
Hankins becomes the third linebacker commit in the 2011 recruiting class for the Wildcats, joining Hank Hobson and Jabral Johnson.
When the three get on campus next summer, the Wildcats’ linebacker breakdown by class will look like this.
Seniors: Derek Earls, Paul Vassallo
Juniors: Jake Fischer, R.J. Young (used redshirt)
Sophomores: Cordarious Golston (used redshirt); Trevor Erno (used redshirt)
Redshirt Freshmen: Kyle Benson (expected to redshirt due to knee injury)
True Freshmen: Hank Hobson, Jabral Johnson, Rob Hankins
This will give the Cats a balance, with at least two players in each class. This year the Wildcats will have three new starters, and do not have a non-JUCO upperclassman on the roster. The Cats do not have a backer on the roster with a start under his belt, and just two who logged any meaningful time last year.
Ideally, you’d expect the Cats to try to redshirt at least two of the newcomers, in an effort to further spread out the talent among the four classes.
The Cats find themselves in this position due to three factors, the reliance of junior college linebackers, players changing positions and players leaving the program. The Wildcats currently have three defensive ends who began their careers as linebackers in Brooks Reed, D’Aundre Reed and Apai Tuihalamaka. Add to that Zander Fabri’s departure and a few other recruits de-committing and you have the unbalance in the classes the Cats’ have faced the past few seasons.
Hankins does more than just give the Cats depth, he gives them a very well regarded recruit. He is a four-star player and ESPN.com’s #9 ILB nationally. He’s one of the “great instinct” guys that Tim Kish has done so well with, but has legit athleticism and good enough size and could be a guy who comes in and challenges for playing time.
His commitment mean the Cats have really solidified their linebacking and running back units. Although they might still add another player if an elite talent wanted to come on board, with three backers and two runners, the Cats are in very good shape at both positions.