At the time that Anthony Hankerson committed to Colorado on Feb. 1, the Buffaloes didn’t have a roster spot to bring him in for the 2022 season.
Instead, CU asked him to grayshirt and delay his enrollment until January of 2023. Hankerson agreed, but always held hope that he could join the Buffs sooner.
Earlier this month, the standout running back from St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School got the call from the CU staff to get ready. CU is now planning to bring Hankerson to Boulder next month and have him on the roster for this season.
“That’s always been a possibility,” he said. “I just continued praying and just waited it out. I finally got that answer I was looking for. I’m ready to get started.”
CU has three returning running backs on scholarship: senior Alex Fontenot, junior Deion Smith and sophomore Jayle Stacks. They added Victor Venn, from Buford (Ga.) High School, as a prep signee in December, and also have redshirt freshman walk-on Charlie Offerdahl, who could play a role this season.
Then, on Jan. 31, FCS All-American Ramon Jefferson, from Sam Houston, announced his intention to transfer to CU. That gave CU five projected scholarship backs. A day later, Hankerson, who graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas this month, committed to the Buffs, but they asked him to grayshirt.
“As an athlete, that’s kind of hard to do, especially when you love the game of football and having to wait a couple of months before you actually touch the field,” he said.
Hankerson liked CU enough, however, to go with the plan.
Rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com, Hankerson received 29 scholarship offers, including 17 from Power 5 schools. Ultimately, he chose CU over Florida International and its first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre — the Buffs’ former coach.
“I got a chance to go and visit (Boulder) and I loved it,” Hankerson said. “It was just home.
“(Recruiting) was definitely an exciting period of my lifetime. I definitely want to give my glory to the grace of God for putting me in that situation to have a lot of colleges even looking at me. It was fun. I finally found that school, that home that I wanted and I’m ready to get started now.”
It helps that CU has some support staff members who are STA alums, and current defensive lineman Allan Baugh was one of Hankerson’s teammates in high school.
“We won a state championship together,” Hankerson said. “That’s my boy. Coming from St. Thomas, it’s like a brother-oriented thing.”
Although Hankerson is just 5-foot-9, he has 190 pounds on his frame and carries confidence.
“I’m a shorter back from Florida, which means I’m a shorter back with a lot of speed,” he said. “We produce good running backs down here. I take pride in taking care of the ball. I take pride on making that first man miss; I don’t let the first man tackle me. I take pride on you see the hole, hit the hole and don’t look back.”
During his three seasons on varsity at STA, Hankerson rushed for 3,420 yards and 43 touchdowns and helped the Raiders to three Class 7A state titles. Hankerson topped the 1,000-yard mark in each season, including 1,057 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior.
In each of the past two years, Hankerson was on the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Class 8A-6A Broward County first-team. The publication named him as the county offensive player of the year in 2020.
After a stellar prep career, Hankerson is eager to get to Boulder next month and join the competition at running back.
“I’m excited to get in the room, feed off all the other running backs and what they’ve got to bring to the table,” he said. “I’m ready to get started.”