Deion Hankins has accomplished a lot in his high school career at Parkland. The running back currently leads all of Texas in rushing with 1,082 yards and 10 total touchdowns on the year. He’s also number two in his class academically, a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at Parkland, and was voted on to his team’s leadership council during the offseason. There is a twist to this story: he’s only a sophomore.
“I’ve never had a football player like Deion in any shape, form or fashion,” says Parkland head coach Josh Kirkland. “I’ve never had a running back rush for almost 1100 yards in four games and I’ve coached some good ones.”
Looking at Hankins’ individual stats is simply remarkable. He’s rushed for over 200 yards twice and has rushed for 300 yards in back-to-back games, including a career-high 338 rushing yards last Friday against Bel Air. Hankins has burst on the scene this year as one of Texas’ best running backs, but his talent was obvious from his first moments on the field in the seventh grade.
“I used to play football in the street outside which toughened me up a little bit, so I basically just needed the play calling and I was good,” Deion said.
“On his first play, he scored a touchdown and that’s when I realized, he’s going to make it somewhere”, said Devontay Hankins, Deion’s older brother and starting linebacker for the Matadors.
The relationship between the Hankins brothers has been very close. Both started playing football in the seventh grade and are key contributors for the Matadors with Deion on offense and Devontay on defense. While they are on the same team, there is certainly some friendly competition between the two.
“I remember in practice not too long ago, I was running to the outside and I thought I was gone and he (Devontay) came up and blindsided me,” said Deion. “We’re very close but at the end of the day, it’s just us two looking out for each other.”
Deion and his brother are both leaders for a Parkland team that has shown tons of potential this season. That said, Deion is more of a quiet leader on the field and it’s something that his teammates gravitate to.
“That’s my personality. I am a Christian,” said Deion, “My brother and I were raised in a Christian home and my mom has been big in teaching us integrity, respect and all the important stuff.”
“He is a guy that does everything right. It couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” says Kirkland. “He leads everything by example and he’s very easy for them to follow.”
Deion will be a key piece in the Matadors’ quest to return to the playoffs after missing out the last two years. They’re in a tough race in District 2-5A and Kirkland says that Deion is “essential to our entire football team.” As for what lies ahead after that, Deion says he needs to work on his power and becoming a more consistent runner. His coaches already see what a special player he could be by the time he’s finished at Parkland.
“He’s still coming into his own, which is the scary part,” says Kirkland. “He’s figuring out that ‘I am stronger than most people, I am faster than most people. He’ll come to the sideline and look at me and say ‘Coach, I don’t know how I did that.’ And then I’ll say ‘I do, I watch you all the time.’”