Trent Sherfield was considered a three-star defensive back prospect out of Danville, Illinois. Lightly recruited, Sherfield ended up at Vanderbilt and moved to receiver. But as a freshman in 2014, Sherfield only caught one pass for 9 yards.
A year later, Cortez Hankton came to coach the Commodores’ receivers. Sherfield immediately blossomed under Hankton’s guidance.
Sherfield became a go-to option for Vanderbilt over the past three years, and finished his senior season in 2017 with 50 catches for 729 yards and five touchdowns. Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason said Hankton proved a pivotal role in developing Sherfield.
Hankton has since joined Georgia’s staff and will now mentor the Bulldogs’ receivers.
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“Cortez is phenomenal,” Mason said before speaking at the fifth-annual Minority Coaches Association of Georgia coaches clinic.
Mason described Hankton as a coach whose “football IQ is through the roof.” Hankton has plenty of playing and coaching experience at this stage of his career. Hankton played six years in the NFL and then two years in the defunct UFL.
He then took an assistant coaching job at Dartmouth, where he coached for three years before heading to Vanderbilt. At Dartmouth, Mason said Hankton “smoothed out” his coaching style.
Mason is impressed enough with Hankton to where he believes it won’t be long before he receives a promotional opportunity.
“Cortez is going to be a superstar,” Mason said. “I think he’ll be a coordinator in a couple of years and go on to be a head coach. That’s what I want. In my program, I’m never going to take a coach that doesn’t see himself as a coordinator or doesn’t see himself as a head coach. I just need to be where his feet are now. What you try to do is invest in those guys and Cortez is going to be successful at Georgia.”
Head coach Kirby Smart was also present at the same coaches clinic but declined to speak with reporters.
This season, Hankton will have a receiver corps that features Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley as its top three returning wideouts. Godwin caught 38 passes for a career-best 639 yards and six touchdowns. Hardman, who moved from cornerback to receiver before the 2017 season, caught 25 passes for 418 yards and four scores.
One of those touchdowns was an 80-yarder against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Mason believes Hankton will do well at Georgia, considering what he was able to accomplish with his receiver group at Vanderbilt.
“Cortez left Vanderbilt better than the way he found it. He recruited well,” Mason said. “He coached well. His ability to get young men from the way they are to the way they need to be is why Georgia came and got him. That’s what you do. It’s not about me. It’s about me being a vehicle and really helping young coaches get from where they are to where they need to be.”