Strong core values help LSU receivers coach Cortez Hankton form a special bond with the Tigers
Every coach always has their “why” when it comes to entering the coaching profession. The hours are long as recruiting trips, time in the office, workouts, relationship building and games all cut into family time.
For LSU wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton, he discovered his “why” quite early in his career by wanting to help other young players like him achieve their dreams. Hankton grew up in downtown New Orleans and saw his parents work extremely hard to get him out of that environment, setting the blueprint for Hankton as to how hard he wanted to work.
Hankton didn’t start playing competitive football until his freshman year in high school at St. Augustine, and it took him a bit longer to develop as a player. At every stage, from his days at Texas Southern to his arrival as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Hankton seized every opportunity.
“When you feel entitled to something, you feel like you’re meant to have it. But when you’re grateful for it, you accept it and make sure you do everything to keep it,” Hankton said.
He would go on to have an eight-year career in professional football, but the lessons and values he learned during that time are traits he hopes to instill in players as a coach. Hankton understands the sacrifices that come with this job, which is why he makes sure to make the most of every opportunity.
When he started dating his wife, Hankton recalls having a conversation about never wanting to become a coach because of the time it takes from the people closest to you. But for him, becoming a coach was something he just couldn’t fight.
“I love football, but I love investing in young men even more. When there’s an opportunity to give back and you’re able to combine two of your passions, there’s nothing better” , Hankton said. “I use football as a platform to develop young men. I always try to teach life lessons rather than X’s and O’s on film and that has helped me in my relationship with the players. that I trained.”
Having the ability to return to Louisiana and train in a location an hour and a half from his hometown and his family made this a very attractive opportunity. But on the pitch, Hankton couldn’t be more excited to work with the talent in this room.
Headlining junior Kayshon Boutte and exciting young talent with experience in Jack Bech, Brian Thomas, Malik Nabers, Chris Hilton, with the right development, LSU can definitely return as one of the star groups in the SEC in 2022. The part that Hankton raved about most was the group’s collective effort to learn and become a winning program again.
“What pleasantly surprised me about this group was their eagerness to learn,” Hankton said. “They’ve really agreed to come and talk and want to be better. You look at what happened here a few years ago, they want to do everything in their power to get back there.
“I would say about 85-90% of the guys in our room that I’ve recruited. That part really helps when you walk into the room because you already have connections, there’s excitement. When you have this report, they are more willing to listen to what you say.”
Getting back to that championship caliber is the first step, but Hankton sees it as a step further than that. It’s not just about returning to a championship, but about maintaining it and ensuring the foundation is set for future generations of LSU football players.
It’s a lesson he learned during his four-year journey as a coach at Georgia, where the Bulldogs won many games and finally overcame the hurdle last season and won a national championship. Hankton said initially it was all about “taking your pieces,” as the Bulldogs would lose to Alabama three times over that four-year span before finally getting over that bump.
“It’s all about recruiting, it’s lineage. But then you have to have mindset, physique, discipline and that really builds in the offseason,” Hankton said. “That bond you have with your team, the system in place and maintaining a team standard of wanting to be a national champion every year.”