SOW Gets A Little “Hank Time”

In 2007 Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn thought that they had solidified the Washington Reskins Wide Receiver Corps by drafting both Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.

Not so much… The young guys never panned out (to put it as nicely as I can).

Thomas, now fighting for his life to get a special team’s roster spot with the New York Giants, didn’t do much under Zorn. When Mike Shanahan took over last year the hope was that he would be Shanahan’s next Brandon Marshall. Unfortunately Thomas spent more time in music videos, and taking pictures in odd sleepwear, than he did learning to play wide receiver.

Kelly proved to be made of porcelain, and really was never healthy enough to make any type of contribution. This week Kelly was released after missing most of training camp and all of the preseason with a foot injury.

For years Santana Moss has needed another guy to draw attention, and give Moss a little room to work with. The search has included guys like Brandon Lloyd (who led the NFL in receiving yards last season) and Antawaan Randel El (who enjoyed his 2nd trip with the Steelers to the Super Bowl last February).

Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan did an excellent job this offseason of turning a very thin WR group, into a group so deep I have no idea who will be on the 53 man roster (this is an awesome problem to have).

You can make arguments for a lot of the guys. But one guy who we are pretty certain is going to make that team is formerUniversityofMiami Wide Receiver Leonard Hankerson.

Hankerson is one of those prospects that is extremely hard to not get worked up about. At 6 feet three inches he has all the size that the Redskins have been missing at the wide receiver position. Not to mention the kid can flat out play.

Last year, in his senior year atMiami, Hankerson led Miami with career-high 1,156 receiving yards on a team-high 72 receptions. He was also the team leader with 13 receiving touchdowns which set aMiami record, breaking Michael Irvin’s mark of 11 set in 1986.

I don’t know about you but I love seeing players break records held by Dallas Cowboys.

We got to spend a few minutes talking to Hank Time about all sorts of things including: Redskins Tradition, the University ofMiami, Sean Taylor, The Offensive line, and of course Madden 12.

SOW: Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us tonight. We are so excited to get to let Redskins Nation get to know you a little better.

LH: No problem man.

SOW: It’s been a fun preseason for the fans, obviously to see the team play at the level on offense this year that they have has been refreshing. What has it been like to see the team play at such a high level with such a short time to prepare?

LH: It’s been great man, I mean just to come in and to get in this opportunity has been great. We are very excited because we have so many playmakers on this offense, guys who can take it 80 yards at a time. When you have an offensive line like ours it gives those guys the chance to make plays. I mean we have a lot of running backs on this team who can make big plays at any time so we are excited, to just go out and have fun and do what we do.

SOW: To the fans watching at home, I mean we see a huge difference in the offensive line. They look incredibly better than last year. It’s one thing to see that from your couch, but you are out there with these guys every day. Is this O line for real? And what does that do for an offense to have the confidence, in your offensive line?

LH: Oh yeah, they are for real. They look great every day, and it really does a lot, because that is where it all starts up front. To have them pushing guys around is a lot of fun to see. It is great to have a line that is going to give you a chance to execute and make plays and go out and have fun and be successful.

SOW: You are having a very solid camp and preseason, considering that you started camp and had games literally within a matter of days. As a rookie who didn’t have OTA’s and workouts how hard has this adjustment been, and has it been a handy cap at all?

LH: Honestly, I mean it’s been that way for everyone but, it is a lot harder because you have to just come in and learn so much in such a short time and be expected to go out and produce. But we can’t really go in at full speed because we are just learning still and thinking a lot, instead of just being able to play and have it be like second nature.

SOW: Well you are at least lucky to have been able to get your playbook from Beck right? It has been well documented that John Beck was huge in getting the team together for the player workouts and organizing everything. What does it do for a team to get that chemistry and to spend that time together? In 1987 when the players had the strike, the Redskins have player practices, like you did, and that team wins the Super Bowl.

LH: It’s huge to get that… I mean to lose OTA’s is big because in college you have spring football, and that’s where you get to learn and get everything right. OTA’s are like spring football for the NFL, so to not have that time, it really hurts.

What John did was so big because it gave us a chance to install some stuff and get to know each other a little bit. We learned a few things so now when we have the coaches I’ts not like they are totally speaking Chinese or something. We were a little bit familiar.

SOW: Depth is something that Mike Shanahan has worked to bring to a lot of different positions. With guys like you and Niles getting drafted, the trade for Jabber Gaffney, and bring in in Donate Stall worth in Free agency. What does it do for you to have such a deep mix of young guys and veterans? How does that competitive atmosphere push you to get better.

LH: I mean it’s huge to have veterans like that on a team to teach you how to play the right way. You look at Santana, Jabar, and Donte; these guys have been in the league for over ten years. So it’s big to have guys with that experience to teach you the right way and help you learn. But you can’t really push to be perfect all the time, because then you try to hard and start messing up. You just have to do what you know to do and flow with it. That’s all you can do.

SOW: It is very exciting to see a big aggressive WR like you come to DC. To have a guy like you who attacks the ball is really exciting, to me anyway. For those of us who follow you on Twitter your name there is @HankTime85. What is that? Is it like how you approach the game or?

LH: For athletes we all have to have that confidence you know? When I was in high school my teammates just kinda came up with it. When we would be playing our games they would say “Oh its Hank Time, its HANKTIME.” I ended up getting the tattoo and stuff, and it just kinda stuck through college and now it’s my Twitter.

SOW: You’re a Miami guy. It’s no secret that there have been a lot of guys from the U that have come through Redskins Park over the last few year. Sean Taylor being one of them. I believe you were in college when the incident took place. How did that impact you even though it was so far away?

LH: You know man I remember the exact day that it happened, and it’s weird because like, I never played with Sean, I didn’t know him or anything like that. But obviously you know what kind of a player that he was, and especially what he did at Miami and it’s like family, it’s like I knew him. I had got up early to go to the gym and work out like 5:45 or 6:00 and the news came across and I just remember being in shock seeing it on ESPN. It just hit everyone to have a guy like that be killed it’s just so tragic and we all felt it.

SOW: Miami has had a long history of producing great wide receivers. Do you model yourself after any of those guys? Who is your game the most like?

LH: The way I play, I try to model myself as like Andre Johnson, or a Reggie Wayne. I think I have a similar skill set like those guys.

SOW: What do you have to do to get on that level?

LH: Honestly just work hard every day, and try to have fun and enjoy what I’m doing. If I go out and try to learn every day and get better I’m going to be able to get where I want to be.

SOW: On Redskins Nation this week, Larry Michael (no “S”) mentioned you checking out the new Redskins history mural at Redskins Park. I know you are getting a crash coarse in the Burgundy and Gold. What does it mean for you to see that everyday, coming from a school with a winning tradition like Miami, and being drafted by a team with a tradition like the Redskins?

LH: It’s great man; honestly I am just so blessed to have this opportunity. To even get to be here and to see that history and have a chance to be a part of it. I mean, I only want to play for one team, and be there my whole career. So it’s really great to see that kind of tradition, and to feel like I have an opportunity to be a part of it.

SOW: Does it motivate you to get on that wall?

LH: Oh Definatley…definitely.

SOW: We talked to Chris Horton last week about what the home opener was going to be like. But for you it’s the home opener, it’s the September 11th memorial game against the Giants AND it’s your first game in the NFL. What is that going to be like?

LH: Man, just blessed. Blessed to have the opportunity. It is going to be such a special day with all that going on and to be my first game, I just feel lucky to be able to be a part of this, and to be a part of the September 11th anniversary. It’s just going to be special.

SOW: You’re a Madden guy, Madden 12 just came out we asked Chris this too. Did they do you right on your player ratings?

LH: Really, I can’t have any expectations you know? I haven’t done anything yet. I mean what all I did in college is totally different than this. So I just have to come out and work hard to prove myself, and to show what I can do. All that other stuff will take care of itself.

SOW: Your Hurricanes are opening the season on National TV Monday night at Maryland. That should be a fun game, are you planning on checking it out?

LH: Yeah I think I’m gonna try and go out there to check it out. It should be a good game and a lot of fun.

SOW: Who wins?

LH: Come on man, is that even a question?

SOW: Ok, ok… so what about Miami what can they do this year?

LH: I really think they can have a good year and do some special things. I’m still close with a lot of those guys from being there and I think they are going to have a big year.

SOW: I really appreciate you taking the time for us tonight. We are pretty confident that we are going to see some awesome things out of you this year, really it’s very exciting. Good luck man.

SOW: Hail to the Redskins

LH: Thanks a lot man.

You can follow Leonard on Twitter @HankTime85. So go check him out. Maybe you will get lucky and he will be looking for someone to play Madden with.

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About Ray Smith

Ray Smith is the Head Writer and Senior Editor of www.sonofwashington.com as well as the Host of the SonOfWashington Podcast. Follow Ray on Twitter @SonOfWashington

Posted on September 3, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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