Fifth Down: Johnathan Hankins

Fifth Down is a series at BuckeyeNation where we chat with impact players in Ohio State athletics.

A 2012 preseason All-America selection named to the Bednarik Award watch list, Johnathan Hankins entered the season third among current Buckeyes with 12½ tackles for loss and four sacks.

At 6-foot-3 and 322 pounds, the junior's size and quickness off the ball sometimes make him unblockable, as he is the glue for Ohio State's defensive front.

He became bulletin board material last week when he replied to a question about how he planned to stop Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell by saying, "I'm going to try to rip his head off." Hankins isn't afraid to speak his mind or play his game, as he graded out at 88 percent after the Michigan State game.

He ranked fourth on the team in tackles last season with 67. In doing so, Hankins was named the team's Jack Stephenson Award winner as Ohio State's most outstanding defensive lineman.

A Southeastern High School graduate out of Dearborn Heights, Mich., he led his team to an 11-1 record and a division championship as a senior. For that, the four-year starter was named to the All-Metro and All-Detroit teams.

Some NFL mock draft boards have him leaving after this season and going as high as the top five. All have Hankins projected as a first-round pick.

BN: Is this team ready for the Big Ten grind the rest of the year?

Hankins: I feel we're definitely going to be ready. We're going to start clicking and everyone will be in tune. It's going to be great.

BN: How much has this team grown since Week 1?

Hankins: I think we've grown. As a team, we have confidence that we can go out there and do our jobs. We can execute. You won't see the offense go three-and-out. We'll fix that this week.

BN: How much better are you this year than you were last year?

Hankins: I feel like I'm a lot better in the run aspect and conditioning. I can handle the double team.

BN: How much do you throw what has happened so far away and move forward?

Hankins: We'll enjoy the wins and get prepared for the next game. Dominate that game and then go from there.

BN: It looked like a lot of missed tackles where guys were gearing up for a big hit and missing?

Hankins: Coach [Luke] Fickell always says if the first person thinks they have a good shot to go ahead and take that big shot because there are other guys running behind you. I think when we took that shot we weren't quite there. We weren't really running to the ball, but I felt like we did a better job.