Hanks adjusting to new role with FSU

Morley Stanwood grad making noise as defensive back for Bulldogs as redshirt freshman

BIG RAPIDS — Almost immediately making the switch from wide receiver to defensive back when he arrived as a member of the Ferris State football team, it seemed like it might take Tyler Hanks a while to adjust to college football.

The Morley Stanwood graduate earned his reputation as a playmaker at both running back and as a receiver out of the backfield in high school, leaving him to use his skills on the defensive side of the ball under first-year coach Tony Annese.

After a year of hard work, Hanks, who will be a redshirt freshman this fall, has seen himself work his way into the conversation for playing time at defensive back following a successful spring.

DEFENDER: Tyler Hanks is flourishing for Ferris State as a defensive back after making the switch from receiver as a freshman. (Pioneer file photo)

Hanks capped off the spring on Saturday with a strong performance in the Crimson & Gold spring game, proving he has the athleticism to played the position at the Division II level, while learning the nuances of what it takes to be a good defensive back.

“It was definitely a good feeling to get out there,” Hanks said of the spring scrimmage. “I missed playing – I didn’t get to play last year, so it was definitely nice to get out there in pads in a game situation.”

On a team that struggled against the pass defensively last season, Hanks will look to be one of several young players vying for time in what should be a talented but inexperienced group.

During Saturday’s scrimmage, Hanks showed he was comfortable in the defensive back role, making a nice open-field tackle on wide receiver Jake Lampman, while getting to quarterback Trevor Bermingham on a safety blitz for a would-be sack, although defenders aren’t allowed to make contact with quarterbacks during the scrimmage.

Still, Hanks has used his speed and instincts to work his way into the mix for playing time.

“We’re really pleased with him, he’s a really good athlete,” Ferris State coach Tony Annese said. “He’s got some potential. That whole class of kids that came in our first year are really coming and showing themselves. They’re going to be redshirt freshmen who can come in and compete and possibly play for us this year.”

Making the switch from the offensive side of the ball to becoming a defensive-minded player has come with a better understanding of all the little things that make a great player and plenty of hard work, Hanks said.

“It’s a lot different than high school,” he said. “When you’re in high school, you’re the most athletic kid on the field. Here you’ve got to learn little things, because the receivers know all of the techniques to try to be better than you can be. It’s a lot of technique and a lot of hard work.

“It’s definitely a lot different than offense,” he added. “You’ve gotta switch from the offense calls to the defensive calls. With coach (Esposito) coming in as a new defensive coordinator with a new system, I think it made it kind of an easy transition. I’ve just been working hard, just like all of the DBs have been working hard.”

Hanks said continuing to grind away and learn about the position is what he’ll be doing in the coming months to ensure he’ll have a shot at being one of the go-to guys in the defensive backfield.

“We’re pushing each other every day,” he said. “I’m definitely going to go out and compete for a starting spot.”

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