To say 2016 was a breakthrough year for El Paso Parkland running back Deion Hankins would be a major understatement. In his sophomore year and in his first full varsity season, Hankins emerged as a top running back in Texas finishing with yards and 35 touchdowns for the Matadors. Yet while all the noise around him builds as a potential top recruit, he’s taking everything at his own pace.
“I just try to stay focused and not get off track,” Hankins said, “I don’t want to focus too much attention to the media or anything else like that but I just want to try and do my thing and do what it takes to get better on the field.”
The calm demeanor that Hankins displays is something that doesn’t surprise his head coach.
“Deion is one of the most level-headed kids I know,” said Parkland head coach Josh Kirkland. “He’s got a great head on his shoulders and he doesn’t let the noise get to him at all. He plays football because he loves it and it’s not about the attention for him. He’s a great kid.”
Hankins has stood out both on and off the field and has garnered the attention of several colleges and already has four offers from Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, UTEP and most recently, Utah. Kirkland also said that he keeps getting calls wanting to see film of Deion and “get some eyes” on him in person in El Paso. Hankins says he doesn’t have a clear favorite as of yet, but is taking the process one day at a time.
“Texas Tech has been talking to me a lot since last year,” Hankins said of the Red Raiders, “I built up a pretty good relationship with the running backs coach (Deshaun Foster) and said he really wanted to work with me and help me become a better player.”
Foster has since been hired as the running backs coach at UCLA. Hankins’ second offer came from Oklahoma State.
“The coaches have really tried to get to know me as a person and my family,” Hankins said, “They’ve also shown interest in my brother (Devontay) at linebacker as well.”
As for Utah, Hankins says that he’s only spoken with the coaches a couple of times and wants to learn more about the Utes. Utah does have an El Pasoan on their roster in former El Dorado wide receiver Tyquez Hampton.
Meanwhile, Hankins has said that Sean Kugler and the UTEP coaching staff have talked with him and said that playing close to home is something that would appeal to him.
“I’ve talked with Coach Kugler and the staff a couple of times. They brought up the fact about running the ball at home in front of my family. It’s definitely something I’ve thought about.”
With four offers so far, 2016 has turned into a pretty big year for Hankins and there could be even more in store for him moving forward. While that decision is still two years away, family could play an important role in that process.
His older brother, Devontay, will be a senior linebacker for the Matadors and has also generated college interest. At the end of the day, Hankins is just focused on improving his footwork, getting the Matadors back into the playoffs and just following wherever the road takes him.
“I could see that as a possibility, but at this point, I’m not sure how everything is going to work out,” Hankins said on the possibility of playing with his older brother in college. “It’s something I would have to pray about but I just want to follow the plan that God has for me.”
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