Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Superstar In The Making, But We Already Knew That

The Telegraph out of Macon, Ga., has a story under this headline: Former boss says new UGA assistant Cortez Hankton is ‘going to be a superstar.’

From the story:
“I think he’ll be a coordinator in a couple of years and go on to be a head coach.” Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason.
Hankton, of course, is the new wide receivers coach for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. He first became a fulltime college football coach when Dartmouth's Buddy Teevens saw something he liked and took a chance on an unproven NFL veteran in 2012. Long before Mason said Hankton is "going to be a superstar," Teevens was saying the same thing – and receivers coached by him at Dartmouth came to feel the same way.

Check out Hankton's Dartmouth bio HERE.

Each week for several years BGA Premium had a Q&A with Dartmouth coaches. Here's one from the fall of 2012 with Hankton:

HANOVER – Former NFL wide receiver Cortez Hankton joined the Dartmouth football staff last June.

A former All-America at Texas Southern University, Hankton signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003 and played in all 16 games of his rookie season, catching 17 passes. He went on to spend four years with the Jags, catching two touchdown passes in his second year and a total of 34 passes over the course of his career with the team. After Jacksonville he signed with the Minnesota Vikings and then spent the 2008 season on the injured reserve list with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hankton went on to play two years in the United Football League, earning a nomination as the UFL's Offensive Player of the Year.

A native of New Orleans, Hankton came to Hanover from the University of Central Florida, where he was working as a volunteer assistant. He is the founder of Black Ice Concept, an organization working to improve minority presence in winter sports. In 2003 he created the Cortez Hankton Scholarship Fund.

What was your favorite sports team growing up? The New Orleans Saints. I definitely was a home team kind of guy. I loved my Saints. Once I got to the NFL It was different. We played them my rookie year in a game in Jacksonville you might remember. The last play of the game they kept throwing it back and back and then (John) Carney missed the extra point and we won.

What was your a nickname as a kid? It was Tez growing up. My first football nickname was Lightning  because I was pretty fast when I was a kid. A Little League coach called me that. Then it seemed like every stage I got a different nickname in football. It went from Lightning, to Highlight Hankton, to Mr. Payday, to just Big Hank.

What was your best subject in school? Math. I'm definitely a math guy this day. When I was in graduate school statistics was my thing. Everybody else hated it. I loved it.

What subject did you like the least? English. I didn’t really enjoy writing. It’s funny, because in school I was pretty good at it. I just didn’t like to do it.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  When I was a little kid my dream was to play professional football and be a federal agent. The federal agent part changed quick. Both my parents are in law enforcement so I wanted to be a detective. I was a kid who liked to read mysteries.

What other jobs have you worked besides football?  My first job was working at the district attorney’s office in New Orleans doing clerical work, filing cases all day. I was only supposed to work in one department and then because I was doing it so fast other departments were calling and then I had a stack of folders. I was thinking I might have to slow down so I wouldn't get all the extra work. It was an experience. I worked at Winn Dixie bagging groceries and pushing baskets.  In the summer we had to wear these vests and black pants. It is humid in New Orleans and so hot that all I wanted to do was get the baskets from the parking lot inside so I could start bagging groceries. That was the job I had right before college.

When did you start playing tackle football?  I was 6-years-old. My first position was center. I had two cousins who asked me if I wanted to go to the park and play. I didn’t know anything about football. The coach had these cones lined up with the center, guard, tackle and end. I remember the ball being in front of center so that was the position I wanted to play because he touched the ball every single play. Little did I know all I was going to be doing was snapping and blocking defensive linemen. I wore number 55 and had one of those big, ugly face masks. The next year I moved to quarterback and scored 18 touchdowns.

Other than football, what was your favorite sport?  Basketball. I loved it. I actually stopped playing football for a while and was really focused on basketball. I enjoyed everything about it. Basketball was a fun sport even to practice. And I was a jumper. I was a dunker and I loved catching alley oops. That was my thing. The reason I started playing football again is I broke my foot in high school and I got the cast off the day before tryouts. I was limping around real bad and the coach said I see you limping around, but you are tough, you are fast your strong, why aren’t you playing football? So he cut me the first day and said I needed to play football. After I went out for football he told me I could be on the team the next year. But by then I was running track and I said I was good.

Is there one most memorable moment from your athletic career? Probably the gamewinner (a 14-yard fade from Byron Leftwich with 45 seconds left to give the Jaguars a 22-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in his second season in the NFL).  When I was in college I was playing against a future first round cornerback my redshirt freshman year. I caught three touchdowns in the first half against them. I remember coming to the sidelines and one of the senior receivers was like, “You have arrived.” It was Homecoming so that was a pretty big deal.

Who put the biggest hit on you? I remember one time playing against the Baltimore Ravens. I caught a flat route and had an opportunity to turn back in. I see Ray Ray – Ray Lewis – running at me. So I have him coming at me from one direction and two defensive backs coming from another. It was Ed Reed and Chris McAlister. I will never forget it. I looked it Ray Ray, I looked at the two DBs and I went toward the two DBs. You’ve got to be smart and live to play another day.

What was your favorite NFL stadium to play in? Pittsburgh and New England.

Is there a pro athlete who you really admire?  Michael Jordan, without a question. He is the ultimate icon for competitiveness. I don’t care what sport you play, you try to be like Mike. There was a commercial about that for a reason.

What one sports event you would love to go to as a fan? I think it would have to be the World Cup. The Olympics would be great but I know how passionate people are about soccer. I’ve been to a few Super Bowls, I’ve been to the NBA finals, I’ve been to the World Series, I’ve been to the hockey finals but I’ve never been to the World Cup.

What is the best thing about coaching?  Seeing the kids develop. Not only that, but seeing them enjoy football. They enjoy the game, they play hard and they have gotten better every week. Seeing them grow on and off the field is what I enjoy the most.

What is the worst thing about coaching? Not being able to play everybody. They all work so hard but ultimately you are going to put the best guys on the field because you have to win. There are a lot of guys who deserve the chance to play but it is impossible to play them all. The first game, we played 10 receivers but as the season progressed guys started separating themselves and fewer of them are playing. But all the guys come in and work hard every week.

What has surprised you about Dartmouth student-athletes? These guys are so talented both on and off the field. The perception might be that these guys are really smart but maybe not great athletes but they are Renaissance men who are great at everything they do. They make me want to go out and recruit hard so I can point to them and tell a recruit this is what you can be.

If you weren’t coaching right now, what would you be doing? Finishing up my MBA.

What three words would you use to describe Buddy Teevens? Energetic. Charismatic. Optimistic.

Do you have any hobbies? I love bowling. I have my own bowling shoes. I’ve got two bowling balls and shoes here. I haven’t had an opportunity to bowl here, but that’s my thing.

What is your average?  I’m like a 170 or 180 guy. But it can go both ways. You can catch me rolling a 140 or 150 day or you can catch me on at 200 or 220 day. My best game is a 232. My best is eight strikes in a row.

Did you ever play an instrument? I was in the choir when I was younger. My father was a pretty good drummer in a band and was captain of the drum section in high school. I used to play with his drumsticks every now and then but I never actually took it because I was always so busy with sports.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot? Bermuda was really nice. The water was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life.

Is there something you won’t eat?  It’s funny. If you asked me this five years ago, there was plenty that I did not eat but I’ve grown. It used to be I wouldn’t eat cottage cheese, then I went on a health kick and I started eating it all the time.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?  Popeye’s chicken and everybody knows it. And Krispy Kreme donuts. Anybody who knows me knows that.

What is the first car you ever had? It was actually a pretty good car, a J30 infinity. My parents got it for me used when I was 15. I think it was so I could drive my siblings around and they didn’t have to do it. That was part of the deal.

What would your dream car be? I tell people all the time I think I have it. A Mercedes-Benz S550.

Do you have a favorite movie? Coming to America. It’s a throwback.

What is your favorite TV show? It changes so much. Probably Dexter or Game of Thrones, an HBO show.

Who is your musical act? I really enjoy listening to Joe Scott. And I’ve been listening to Adele recently.

Who was your superhero growing up? I had a segment on a TV show and that was one of the questions I used to ask people. I think I would say Batman. I felt like he was more realistic than the other ones. He had all these gadgets. And of course I felt like he had the coolest suit.

What is your favorite nonsports website? It seems like sports is the only thing that pops up these days.

What one living person would you really like to meet? Barack Obama. Breaking that barrier.

What is the last book you read? James Patterson's Private:  #1 Suspect. Patterson is my favorite author.