The 2019 NFL draft is loaded with defensive playmakers, with many of this year’s top prospects hailing from some of the most storied programs in college football history.
While those bigger names may be stealing the headlines for now, one of the more versatile defenders will be representing New Mexico State at the Senior Bowl next month. Terrill Hanks is a physical and highly intelligent prospect that can be used in a variety of ways at the next level.
Hanks recently spoke exclusively with MCM about the moment he learned he had received an invite to the Senior Bowl, why his background as a safety gives him a competitive edge, and his favorite dish to cook on a first date.
JM: Congratulations on the Senior Bowl invite.
TH: Thank you so much.
JM: What were you doing when you got the news and what was your initial reaction like?
TH: We were wrapping up practice and they told me to go see my head coach. I thought that was pretty odd. Am I in trouble? (laughs). They told me I didn’t even have time to take a shower. I had to go see him immediately. I was thinking oh shoot, this must be serious. I get to his office and take a seat. I just got back from an ankle injury at this point. I’m sitting there and he starts off by saying I haven’t been playing too well as of late. He says that scouts are starting to notice, especially after two bad games in a row. I was like, “ah damn, I know coach, trust me, I know I have to pick up my play.” The next game was against BYU and I vowed to play better.
He told me that he didn’t doubt me for a second and he’s not the only one who believes in me. That’s when he told me about the Senior Bowl invite. He got up and congratulated me. He got me pretty good (laughs). I was so excited that I couldn’t contain myself. I felt big time. It was a very emotional moment for me. I’ve always wanted to play in the Senior Bowl. I flew under the radar in high school. I didn’t get to play in any prestigious bowl games. For me to get a Senior Bowl invite now, it feels like I’ve accomplished a little something.
Congrats @NMSU_Football OLB Terrill Hanks! He’s what the NFL is looking for at LB. It’s a deep and talented LB class this year and @elev8yourgame is our first official acceptance at the position. pic.twitter.com/Y5ADUdO64P— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) November 16, 2018
JM: It sounds like coach pulled your chain a little bit before letting the cat out the bag.
TH: Yeah, he did (laughs). He had me too. It was a great moment.
JM: What’s the lasting impression you hope to leave on the scouts and general managers at the Senior Bowl?
TH: I’m just gonna stand out because of how I play the game. My style and demeanor stands out on the field. They’re gonna love me off the field as well. I’m a different type of player. I’m the same person off the field. I have an infectious personality. They’re gonna love to be around me once they get to know me.
JM: Playing the linebacker position comes with so many responsibilities. What’s your favorite part about playing linebacker?
TH: I love how much the game has changed for us linebackers. It’s a very different game for us today than it was say 10-15 years ago. We can be whatever we wanna be nowadays. I see myself as a versatile linebacker. I might be the most versatile linebacker in this entire draft. Up until my freshmen year in college, I was playing safety. I was reading offenses and working with my hands. I was rushing off the edge. I was dissecting the offensive line and I knew what they were running. I understood my keys. I feel like that gives me an advantage nowadays because we’re playing more man coverage now than ever before.
Telling y’all. Terrill Hanks, NM State linebacker (Senior Bowl guy) is going to be someone to watch as we get closer in the draft process. DB background with real cover skills. Fits today’s mold of an outside linebacker.— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) December 10, 2018
JM: I definitely agree that the game has changed a lot and you can argue that linebackers have been most effected by the way offenses are operating nowadays. We’ve seen a lot of safeties convert to linebackers because of it.
TH: That’s exactly how it goes. I used to play safety and that gives me an advantage. Defensive coordinators can use me all over the field. I can play all three downs. You don’t have to keep me just in the nickel package when you’re facing a player like Tom Brady. You have to have guys with a defensive back’s skill set all over the field. Linebackers have to be able to play man coverage and I can do that.
JM: Is there an NFL tight end or running back you’re looking forward to covering or tackling?
TH: At tight end I would definitely have to say Travis Kelce. Rob Gronkowski comes to mind of course. I’d have to go with Todd Gurley at running back. Those are some of the tougher guys that come to mind.
JM: Which players did you admire growing up?
TH: Sean Taylor. I grew up in South Florida. When it came to football, he was it. He was the guy. He was the biggest thing in Miami. I can’t even begin to explain it. He was a hard-hitting safety and he got a lot of praise for it. This is back when defensive players got all the praise. All the kids in little league wanted to be Sean Taylor. He was the one who went the furthest from my neighborhood. He did so many great things. Everyone in my neighborhood wanted to emulate him growing up. Ever since he passed, the focal point has shifted towards offensive players. I just wanna bring that feeling back to the defense.
JM: That’s incredible. He was quite the player and role model. How did New Mexico State prepare you for the next level?
TH: They helped me develop a chip on my shoulder. They motivated me to keep going. Being at a school like that, you’re already at a disadvantage. There’s a lot of negative energy towards that school. You have to work twice as hard. I can always get better. I saw myself as a big fish in a small pond. That definitely put a chip on my shoulder.
JM: We’ve talked a lot of football tonight, but what are some of your hobbies outside of football?
TH: I like to watch TED talks and play video games. I like to cook. I like to watch a lot of movies too. I’m always watching football though.
JM: What’s your favorite TED talk?
TH: There’s two that come to mind. I watched one about female image. It was about how difficult it is for women in society today. It was about how society makes everything about sex when it comes to women and places stereotypes on them. They go through so much man. The star of this particular TED talk was a model and she was talking about how she can’t even live a normal life.
I saw another one about how the brain works. I thought that was fascinating. It was talking about how much power our brains have. All you have to do is tell the brain something and it can make it happen. The brain is incredibly powerful and holds many healing powers within. I thought that was pretty cool. I’m fascinated by how the brain works.
JM: You said that you like to cook. Let’s say you land a date with someone you’re interested in. What are you cooking for them?
TH: That’s a good question (laughs). I’m making my famous chicken alfredo pasta. If she likes shrimp, I’ll make it with shrimp instead. I’m allergic to shrimp, but I’ll do it for her and I’ll just eat the pasta plain.
JM: Your attitude is gonna get you far in the dating word. You’re allergic to shrimp, but you’ll cook it for her. You’re an absolute gentleman.
TH: Yeah, I try to be (laughs).
JM: I’ve really appreciated your time tonight, Terrill. You’ve been a great sport. What can fans expect from Terrill Hanks going forward?
TH: They can expect great things from me. I’m always gonna put my best foot forward and give it everything I have out there. That starts with the Senior Bowl.