GOLF: Noah Hankins set to tee it up for the Bobcats

On hand to celebrate with Noah Hankins (seated, second from left) were Doug Wilson, Adam, Melissa and Emme Hankins and Phyllis Stansell. On the back row is Trion High School Principal Bryan Edge, Georgia Northwestern golf coach Eddie Jackson, Trion golf coach Garret Brown and Trion golf coach Steve Gladney. (Photo by Scott Herpst)

Most college athletes don’t get to know their coaches until the recruiting process begins.

That won’t be the case for Noah Hankins.

The Trion High School senior golfer signed a letter of intent to play for the Bobcats of Georgia Northwestern on Tuesday morning, putting a smile on the face of Bobcats’ head coach Eddie Jackson.

“Noah is a young man that I've been working with since he was about 10 years old,” the veteran LaFayette club pro explained. “Of course, I had no idea at that time that I would be coaching golf (at Georgia Northwestern).”

Hankins also said he was thrilled to know he would be playing for a man who helped him get to this point in his career.

“He's taught me everything,” Hankins said. “It's amazing to know that he's going from my teacher to being my coach. It's kind of crazy. I never thought when I started (playing) golf about 10 years ago that this is where I would be. I always thought I would end up being a football player or a wrestler, but I found something I really enjoy doing. I've loved every second of it.”

Hankins shot 80 at the Class 1A Public School state tournament as a freshman to place fifth overall, while the Bulldogs ran away to win the team title. He carded an 84 as a sophomore as the Bulldogs repeated as state champs. This past season, he tied for 12th overall with an 81 as Trion earned a top 10 finish in the team standings.

“We've had some really good players come through here the last couple years, so he's had a good upbringing playing with those guys,” Trion coach Garret Brown explained. “Noah is very talented. He has all of the shots and he hits the ball a really long way. It's been great to see him grow up these last three or four years to get to this point.

“I'm hoping he still has a shot to do more things here near the end of his senior season and go low at the state tournament. He's played well in the state tournament before and we've been very fortunate to have him play for us.”

Hankins said he hopes to continue to play well once he trades in the royal blue of Trion for the navy blue of GNTC.

“I know I just need to work hard everyday and just play the best golf that I can,” he said. “I just have to know that I can succeed in this.”

“Of all the young men I've signed in my two years as head coach (at GNTC), I think Noah is probably the most gifted and talented,” Jackson added. “I think the sky’s the limit as far as his potential and that's what I'm excited for. He's got the entire game. He's a power hitter and he's got the short game. I think the short game and the mental game is where he's going to really have to work hard, but I think he can do it and I think he's really going to surprise a lot of folks on the college level.

“We have three golfers coming back and two that have either signed or recently committed, but I think Noah could challenge for the top spot on our team. I think he's that good.”

Hankins said he is considering Accounting as a major.