Brian Smith Scouts St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Deland (Fla.)

John Garcia Jr.

There were numerous players to watch when national power Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Saint Thomas Aquinas (STA) ventured north to play DeLand (Fla.) High School at beautiful Spec Martin Stadium. There’s one player though, believe it or not, that’s not receiving the national attention he deserves.

While several STA players are nationally known, today is a closer look at 2022 running back Anthony Hankerson. The powerfully built tailback had a tremendous game not only from a statistical standpoint, but more importantly, from an attitude and determination standpoint.

Playing behind one of STA’s most inexperienced offensive lines in recent memory, the 5-9 195-pound Hankerson helped set the tone very early. Three consecutive runs placed the Raiders on the goal line before quarterback Zion Turner scored during quarterback sneak.

After a quick change of possession, Hankerson pounded the DeLand defense again, and punched it into the end zone.

A general theme took place. When Hankerson toted the football, he delivered the blow. You read that correctly. Hankerson took the fight to the defense.


That was the sound of Hankerson colliding with a DeLand player. Oftentimes defenders would go low and attempt to cut Hankerson instead of hitting him in the midsection. Based on the way he constantly plowed into defenders, it’s no surprise.

Tone setter. That’s Hankerson.

For the evening, Hankerson totaled 123-yards rushing and three rushing scores. While impressive against one of Central Florida’s most tradition-rich 8A programs, here’s another factor to consider.

DeLand completely sold out to stop the run in the second half. They played Cover Zero, meaning no safety beyond about seven-yards from the line of scrimmage. Still, STA lined up and powered the football down the field.

That’s a credit to Hankerson and all the players that made blocks for him, tight ends and wide receivers included. Hankerson certainly made defenders miss, especially along the sidelines to stay in bounds and gain extra yardage. It’s still his physical nature that created a buzz around the stadium. Here’s a look at several Hankerson clips compiled together.

With offers from Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Georgia Tech, it’s surprising that 247 has Hankerson No. 74 on its current Florida Top 100 list.

Further, he’s only listed as the nation’s No. 53 running back. If there are 52 better running backs than Hankerson, the class of 2022 represents the best year ever for running back recruits.

After watching Hankerson Friday night, those rankings should both change. Look for Hankerson’s offer list to explode between now and next spring. He’s a national recruit capable of playing for any program in the country.

Follow Brian on Twitter @fbscout_florida