June 20, 2012

Hanks, Wyoming showing mutual interest

When a coach at any level compares your role on the team to that of Brian Urlacher, folks take notice.

Such is the case with Fort Collins High School stud, Jake Hanks. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Hanks is listed as a running back and linebacker, but his high school coach, Eric Rice, said he means so much more than that to the Lambkin squad.

"He is versatile enough that he can play anywhere he wants to right now," Rice said. "He has good enough hips that he could probably play in the secondary. We use him a lot like New Mexico used to use Brian Urlacher - all over the field and even returning kicks.

"He is the biggest, baddest dude on the field and we will put him anywhere on the field we need him."

Hanks' versatility is a product of his athletic ability. Rice said Hanks ran a 4.44 time in the 40-yard dash on the track at Fort Collins recently and was timed at 4.54 on the turf at Tulsa. He also claims a squat of 451 pounds and a bench press of 329.

Last season Hanks went down with a shoulder injury five games into the season, but that did not stop him from picking up 276 yards on 45 carries (6.5 yards per carry) on the ground and three scores on offense. Defensively, he recorded 34 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.

Those numbers have landed him a scholarship offer from Wyoming, Northern Colorado and Tulsa, along with interest from Air Force and Washington.

Hanks' Wyoming offer came after the coaching staff was able to see him at a camp in Cheyenne last month. Since then, the school and the prospect have spent a fair amount of time together. Hanks, who is being told by UW they want to see him play inside linebacker, said he took an unofficial visit to Laramie last week and was impressed with what he saw.

"I went up there last Thursday," Hanks said. "I got to tour the campus, the facilities, met the head coach for the first time. I met with my position coach. I met some players and I had never been to Laramie and it was not what I expected. It was a lot nicer than I expected. The campus was really cool and the facilities were really nice."

For a Fort Collins resident and life-long Colorado State fan, Hanks admitted it was somewhat odd to end up in Laramie.

"It is weird," Hanks said of being recruited to Wyoming after a life in Fort Collins. "I have lived in Fort Collins all my life and I go to a lot of games at CSU and they are huge rivals. It was cool to see the other side."

Hanks said Wyoming was probably the program he was the most familiar with out of all of them who are recruiting him. He said Gregg Brandon is his recruiting contact at UW and the Pokes are recruiting him as an inside linebacker.

In addition to Wyoming, Hanks said his first offer came from Tulsa during their camp. Due to timing, he wasn't able to see the campus or meet many of the coaches. He said he met with the coaches at Northern Colorado recently as well, but he is unlikely to pursue a career with the Bears. This week he was at the Air Force camp and he said the coaches seemed very interested in him, but they could not offer him until he can provide his medical records. He will also visit the University of Washington, which has also shown interest.

One school that has not been in contact is the hometown Colorado State Rams.

"I am actually not hearing anything from them," Hanks said. "It is a little off-putting. I've grown up here pretty much all my life."

The future Kinesiology major said he hopes to be committed verbally, or at least have a very clear idea of where he wants to go by the time his senior season of football gets underway. He has not decided if distance from home will play a part in his recruitment, but did say he wants to spend some time talking to his family about he feels he best fits, as well as where he can find early playing time.

After listening to Coach Rice, you have to believe Hanks has the talent to play early.

"We were at a camp at CSU-Pueblo recently where we were running a counter play and the defense blew it up. He broke three tackles and ran for a score. On that play he takes a seven-yard loss and turns it into a 50-yard touchdown," said Rice. "When you have a kid like Jake, it makes you look like a great coach."

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