By Jackson Sparks, Staff Writer—
The Mocs football team suffered a 45-0 loss in Neyland Stadium but senior running back, Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks was a bright spot in the defeat.
Ibitokun-Hanks transferred to Chattanooga after four years at the University of Albany, where he compiled an impressive 2,840 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. He was also named an All-American and All-CAA in 2016.
Ibitokun-Hanks said his time at Albany taught him how to be a student of the game.
“I’ve always worked on that since my high school days,” said Ibitokun-Hanks. “If you’re wanting to take your game to the next level, you have to become a student of the game, so that’s the biggest thing I harp on.”
He flashed vs. Tennessee with 15 carries for 85 yards, including a 37-yard scamper. Prior to the Tennessee game, he only accumulated four carries for 3 yards on the season. Ibitokun-Hanks thinks Tennessee probably didn’t pay much attention to him leading up to the game the which helped him produce under the radar.
“They focused probably more on other guys that they have seen on film,” said Ibitokun-Hanks, “Me being the guy that they didn’t really expect to get that many carries or produce like that, kind of helped me in my underdog story pretty much.”
When asked about his confidence level after playing his best game thus far against an SEC foe, Ibitokun-Hanks shrugged it off. “When you’re in the moment, you don’t see them as an SEC team, you look at them as just regular guys,” said Ibitokun-Hanks. “To me, those guys have class on Monday like I do, sweat like I do, and bleed like I do. So, they can be beat just like we can.”
Ibitokun-Hanks is obviously not hung up on his success in the last game and knows he needs to build on it.
“I need to continue to show my worth and show what I can bring to this program,” he said. “Just helping this program anyway that I can.”
The selfless senior from Newark, N.J., was sure to elaborate on team goals as well.
“It’s definitely obtainable to win the SoCon,” said Ibitokun-Hanks. “Hopefully get into the playoffs and make a run towards winning the whole thing.”
Mocs fans can expect to see more of the determined No. 24 in navy and gold as season approaches October.