This was not the fall that Beau Hankins had in mind.
After redshirting and playing on the scout team in 2012, the Georgia Tech linebacker was ready to join what the team refers to as “the varsity,” a spot on the first-, second- or third-teams.
Instead, he spent another year with the scout team, an assignment that typically portends little playing time.
“I feel like it was really humbling to do it all over again,” said Hankins, from Birmingham, Ala.
Hankins didn’t grumble. Rather, his work preparing the Tech offense was recognized by coaches, who named him the defensive scout team player of the year at the team banquet earlier this month.
“You’ve just got to look at the task at hand and you’ve got to say, ‘Look, I want to become a great football player,’” he said. “You can’t become a great football player by not giving your all.”
Portraying opposing defenses for the Tech offense, Hankins played four different positions as opponent schemes and injuries dictated — inside linebacker, defensive end, cornerback and safety.
“He flies around to the ball, strong kid,” A-back Robert Godhigh said. “I can definitely see him making plays for us in the future.”
Asked which scout teamers made an impression on him, quarterback Vad Lee named defensive back Corey Griffin and Hankins.
“Beau Hankins, he’s a great linebacker,” Lee said. “He likes to stick his nose where the ball is. Those two guys are pretty talented.”
Other scout teamers identified by starters for their work this season include linebackers Chase Alford and Rusty Scott, defensive end Chaz Cheeks, offensive tackle Chris Griffin, defensive tackle Francis Kallon, wide receiver Matt Serpico and running back Donovan Wilson. Alford, Scott and Serpico are walk-ons. Scott, a linebacker who spent the year portraying tight ends on the offensive scout team since Tech doesn’t have any tight ends on the roster, was named offensive scout-team player of the year.
Said coach Paul Johnson of Scott, “He fit the body type they’re looking for, so he goes over there and every week gives them a good look and plays hard.”
Center Jay Finch said that Kallon was hard to block in practice and saw glimpses of his potential in his playing time against Alabama A&M, “where he was just like, ‘Excuse me, get out of the way.’ He’s a good football player.”
Defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu said that Wilson has “made me work some days” and that Griffin is “going to be a great player for us.”
The scout-team player of the year is not necessarily a precursor of impending stardom. Last year’s winners were center Freddie Burden and defensive lineman Patrick Gamble. The former missed the year with a knee injury and Gamble played a small role as a backup.
In 2011, the winners were running back Broderick Snoddy and defensive lineman Ben Keith. Snoddy has been behind David Sims and Zach Laskey at B-back while Keith, a walk-on, has had minimal playing time.
However, given Hankins’ talent — he was the Alabama 6A defensive player of the year in 2011 — and obvious dedication, the 2014 season may bode well.
Said Johnson, “He’s got a chance to be a good player.”
While it wasn’t his preference, Hankins saw benefits in practicing daily against Tech’s option offense.
“It definitely made me more aggressive, because going against the triple option at any given time is not easy at all,” he said. “So just week in and week out going against the triple option, it was definitely hard, but it made me more aggressive overall. I really needed it.”
Hankins is already anticipating spring practice. There will be plenty of competition among the linebackers.
Strongside linebacker Brandon Watts will graduate, but middle linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days will be back with two years as a starter. Quayshawn Nealy will go into his senior season as a three-year starter. Paul Davis has been productive in his freshman season. Tyler Marcordes will make a push for playing time, as should Tyler Stargel. Anthony Harrell, who made strides before a season-ending leg injury, will likely come back in August.
Hankins will be ready, eager to put the scout team behind.
“I’m just really excited for next season and the spring,” he said. “I’ll go out there and compete. I’ll have a chip on my shoulder.”