James Hanna, a 6-foot-5, 232-pound tight end from Flower Mound High in Texas is already signed, sealed, and delivered to the University of Oklahoma and he will start his career as a Sooner after graduating high school this afternoon.
“It is not like a permanent feeling yet,” Hanna said of the emotions running through him as he is about to turn over a new page in his life. “I actually only sometimes feel like it is actually about to happen. It does not feel that much different yet. I have consciously not thought about it that much, but I am ready to go in and get started.”
Hanna has had an interesting off-season, as he and his mother left the country after football season wrapped up to donate their time and efforts towards a mission trip.
“We went to Africa,” Hanna began. “First we went to Kenya and met up with a woman who is in charge of the organization we went with. We then went with her to Sudan.”
“They were building a school, so we helped finish building the school, so we built stuff for the kids. We hung out with the kids, went to church with them, and sang with them and stuff like that.”
Hanna said that being in Africa opened his eyes to how nice it is to have the opportunities that we have in the states, but the people living in Africa do not give it much consideration, as they are in a day-to-day struggle for survival.
“It is all matter of perspective,” Hanna explained. “They do not even think that they have it that rough, because they do not know much more about what is going on outside of Africa.”
“The area that we were in was especially hard. It is a lot worse then a lot of other areas because they have been fighting a war there for the last 20 years. Every single man is a part of the army and they carry around their AK-47’s all of the time. It is kind of intense. There is not really that many men.”
“They have nothing. Basically they only live to live. It is actually really sad.”
The speedy tight end lost some weight while in Africa, but since returning he has added back some bulk plus some, but he is more that ready get to Norman where he can begin his training and work-out regimen.
“I lost some weight, but I have gained back even more. I would say that I am around 232,” Hanna informed.
“I am actually really excited about the (college) workout regimen and the eating. I have been trying to do it myself and it is hard. It is hard to eat right and eat as much as I need to in my house. It takes a whole lot of effort. I think it will be much easier to eat as much as I need to when I get up there, so I am pretty excited about that.”
Once he arrives on campus, Hanna will be rooming with fellow Texan recruit Jermie Calhoun.
“I am rooming with Jermie Calhoun. He is one of the few guys that I actually talked to a little bit. I did not want to room with someone that was really loud and from what I saw he did not seem real loud. He is just kind of a chill, mellow guy.”
Hanna has plans to play tight end in the OU offensive schemes, but do not be surprised if he is used split out wide in most sets, similarly to the way Jermaine Gresham is used now.
“Coach Wilson gave me a really big compliment when he told me that I am at least as good than every wide receiver that they recruited as far as receiving,” Hanna said about the possibility of playing out wide. “When he recruited me I had not played my senior season yet, and my senior season was much better that my junior season. I think he was pretty impressed with some of the stuff I did.”
“The receiver coach is a new guy, because Coach Sumlin left. He said that he is trying to talk Coach Wilson in to using me as a slot. I just want to be able to go in and contribute however I can.”
Many people have labeled Hanna as the sleeper of the class, and while he thinks he has already emerged, he can see where they are coming from.
“That is an interesting question,” Hanna responded when asked if he felt like he was still a sleeper. “I would say it is kind of a combo. In a sense I am. I improved so much from my junior to senior season. I only played legitimate 11-man football for two years. I think I have the opportunity to get a lot better, so I would say from that sense I am kind of a sleeper.”