Matt Hankins opened his media availability session on Tuesday with some of his own questions.
“I’m the reporter,” the Iowa senior cornerback said. “So we’re going to start on me.”
My first question is, how did everybody get into reporting?
How many stories do you write a day?
It was a fun exercise to start the spring media sessions with players, and it was a sign of how much fun Hankins is having with being back with the Hawkeyes.
Hankins took advantage of the extra year of eligibility given to players last season to come back, becoming a rare five-year starter within the program.
The decision was simple, he said.
“I just decided to come back because there’s still a lot of my game I can work on,” Hankins said. “My weight and whatnot, being more physical, things like that. I decided, ‘Why not stay another year?’ I had the opportunity to. The team was good last year, so it can only get better this year. That was the whole idea of the whole thing.”
Hankins has played 38 games in his four seasons at Iowa, with 168 tackles and three interceptions. When he’s been healthy over the last three seasons, he’s been a mainstay in the Hawkeyes’ secondary.
He could have taken the opportunity to head to the NFL, but he decided to stay.
“It was really just between me and my family, and my trainer back home,” Hankins said. “Whatever I did, he was going to support it.”
Now Hankins comes back to lead a deep and talented secondary.
“Matt brings a lot of experience,” safety Kaevon Merriweather said. “He’s been starting since his sophomore year, I believe. He brings so much knowledge to the game. He understands. When he’s out there, he pretty much knows what’s going on before the play even starts. He can see a lineman, he can see the stance of a receiver. He tells me things sometimes. I think him having that experience playing in this conference, playing in this league, that’s what’s really going to help our defense.”
“He brings experience, leadership,” safety Jack Koerner said. “You know, a guy who knows how to play defense and all of the little nuances that go into doing that. It’s something that can’t be taken for granted.
“He’s not necessarily waiting for a safety to give him a call. He already knows that, and we’re just confirming it with him. That’s something I definitely don’t take for granted. Definitely excited to have him back.”
Hankins has also had a voice within the program as it moves forward from the allegations of racial disparities that came out last summer.
“We know where we stand,” Hankins said. “Together, we are one.”
Asked if there has been change within the program, Hankins said, “For our team, for sure, a lot of positive change.”
Hankins provides an experienced voice for a defense that needs one. But he’s also willing to ask questions.
When he was asked what should be asked of some of his defensive teammates who were appearing on the Zoom call after him, Hankins knew the direction of the questioning.
Ask them, he said, who brings the most energy in practice.
“I say I always bring the energy,” Hankins said. “But you have to ask them.”