The Virginia football team went on a tear in the summer of 2014, racking up commitments biweekly between June and July. While every specific timetable was unique, defensive tackle Eli Hanback's recruitment was by far the shortest. A lifelong UVa fan, Hanback committed to the Orange and Blue almost immediatly after pulling in an offer from head coach Mike London.
Hanback was one of the most versatile linemen in the state for the class of 2015. With his skills on either side of the line of scrimmage, Hanback presented the coaching staff with a difficult decision as to where to slot the former three-star prospect. After taking a look his strength and underrated quickness for his size, the Wahoo coaching staff elected to assign Hanback to the defensive line.
Hanback played both defensive end and defensive tackle at Patrick Henry, but the Ashland native will begin his UVa career on the inside of the line. At 6-4, 280 pounds, Hanback already looks the part of a college DT, and will likely get one more season to add even more bulk.
Hanback was his team's offensive and defensive MVP as a junior. The multi talented lineman has the complete understanding of both positions and both units, giving him the football IQ that defensive coordinator Jon Teuta is always searching for.
Let's take a look at this intriguing defensive tackle.
Name: Eli Hanback
High School: Patrick Henry
Ranking: 247/ESPN 3-star, Rivals 2-star
Recognition: First team All-Conference 16 as a junior and senior, 2014 Conference 16 Player-of-the-Year, 2014 All-Metro and All-Region, Second-team All-State.
Hanback has active hands, and is deceptively quick for a guy his size. The former Patrick Henry standout is not a pass rushing defensive tackle, but can shed blocks and make plays at the point of attack. Hanback is more of a "mauler", who uses his non-stop motor to break through opposing lines to go after ball carriers.
The highlight film above displays Hanback making plays at offensive guard, defensive end, and defensive tackle. Fast forward to the :28 second mark, when Hanback vigorously fights off his blocker, and eventually makes the tackle. Whether he stays at defensive tackle or shifts over to the offensive line, Hanback has the strength to battle in the trenches on either side of the ball.
Freshman impact:aExpect Hanback to redshirt in 2015.
Hanback has added nearly 10 pounds of muscle in the past year, and the former All-Conference 16 performer will be able to get further adjusted to UVa's strength and conditioning program during his first fall on grounds.
Like many dominant linemen, Hanback was able to get by on his size alone in high school. Unless he's lining up against an FCS foe, Hanback will rarely dwarf his offensive line counterpart at the college level. The Ashland native will be able to spend the redshirt year getting acclimated to the playbook, and learning the technique it takes to play defensive tackle at the college level.
Look for Hanback and fellow first-year defensive tackle James Trucilla to push each other during their respective redshirt seasons, and come in ready to contribute in 2016.