Seahawks Insider

Exonerated high school star LB Brian Banks earns invite to next week’s minicamp

Post by Eric Williams on June 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm with 35 Comments »
June 7, 2012 2:46 pm

After Seattle linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. put exonerated high school star line backer Brian Banks through his paces during a morning workout here at the team’s facility, head coach Pete Carroll said he’s seen enough, offering Banks an invitation to tryout for the team’s 90-man roster during the Seahawks’ minicamp next week.

“I was really proud to be able to say that to him,” Carroll said. “And the light in his eye, and the emotion that was running through him throughout the day, and at that moment, was amazing.

“This is a great illustration for us of why people deserve a second chance.”

Banks said he’ll speak to his agent, Bruce Tollner, before making a decision. According to an ESPN report, Banks currently has other tryouts lined up with Washington, Miami and Kansas City.

“I really don’t have word for it. It’s just a dream come true,” Banks said. “A lot of people work hard to get to this point. I’ve also worked hard myself. And I’m just thankful for this opportunity.”

The Seahawks currently have 11 linebackers on the 90-man roster, and kept seven on the 53-man roster last year.

Banks said he arrived in Seattle late last night, his first ride on an airplane in 15 years, and only the second one in his life.

And after going through his medical check this morning, he went through basic linebacker drills on the field with Seattle linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.

Banks said he also did some basic testing like running the 40-yard-dash. Banks said he did not know what his 40 time was, but said he was running mid 4.6s and 4.7s in his training leading up to the tryout.

Banks said he measured in at 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds. He doesn’t know if the Seahawks will try him at inside or outside linebacker, but Seattle head coach Pete Carroll indicated that Banks’ size is better suited for outside linebacker.

Carroll said the coaching staff was impressed with the fluid way he moved during the drills.

“He’s very coordinated,” Carroll said. “He has good, natural quickness. He has good flexibility. He jumped well. He caught the ball real well. I don’t know how many balls he’s been catching, but his hand-eye coordination is definitely there.

“You can see that he’s not in the kind of condition that our guys need to be in, so this week in particular is not going to be a great indication, but it will be a start.”

However, the Seahawks also have to temper expectations because Banks has not played organized football in several years, so he’s facing a steep learning curve.

“We need to be very balanced about out expectations,” Carroll said. “This is a long haul. It’s against all odds that he could get to this point. But we’re going to support the chance for him, and have a vision for what he can become more than what he is right now today, and see where it goes.

“It’s going to happen quick. This is the highest level of competition you can find in our world of football, and it’s going to be very difficult. But he deserves a chance.”

Banks was heavily recruited linebacker out of Southern California who was exonerated of rape and kidnapping charges two weeks ago after serving more than five years in jail.

Banks, 26, pleaded no contest 10 years ago on the advice of a lawyer after a childhood friend accused him of attacking her on their high school campus.

Before his ordeal, Banks starred at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, attracting interest from elite college football programs USC, Ohio State and Michigan.

Banks gave a verbal commitment to USC to play for Carroll his junior year in high school.

I asked Banks why he did not pursue playing in college. Banks said he played one college season at Long Beach City College when he first paroled from prison.

Soon after that, California implemented a new law that all parolees for sex offenses have to wear a GPS tracking devise, which eliminated his opportunity to continue playing.

Banks also said he wasn’t sure if he’d be eligible to participate in college because of the time between his first season and going back right now, and that’s why he’s pursuing a shot at the NFL

Bates wore a blue sweatshirt with a California license plate that read “XONR8” on the front, a nod to the California Innocence Project, the organization that believed in him and provided the legal representation for him to get out of jail.

Banks says he has five of the sweatshirts, and wears one every day.

“Ever since May 24th, the day of my exoneration, this has been the ‘S’ on my chest,” Banks said. “This has been my symbol of freedom, and I carry it with me wherever I go. … For me, when I put it on, it’s like Superman. When he puts on his cape, he’s different man. He’s a stronger man, and he’s ready to save the world.

“I feel like when I put this on, I represent the California Innocence Project. And I represent the movement of helping other people who are in the same situation I’m in”

Leave a comment Comments → 35
  1. Dukeshire says:

    Good for him.

    Eric, since he played one season at JC, wouldn’t he have to go through a supplemental draft? But that wouldn’t seem to be the case if he’s invited to next week’ mini-camp.

  2. You really have to hope this guy comes back – how can you not want this guy on your team, you would really like to root for a guy like this!!

    On the flip side – he has got to look at his options. Hopefully not Washington I don’t want to see Snyder with his hooks and selfishness on him

  3. TomlPDX says:

    Would returning to college really be out of the question for him?

  4. JMSeaTown says:

    Talk about a guy playin with extra emotion and a chip on his shoulder, scary. Hope it all works out, for him and the Hawks.

  5. Ortingmom says:

    Go get em’ Brian

  6. If he’s going to the NFL as a LB… he’s got to do it now. If Brandon Weeden were a 28 year old LB, there’s no way he would have gone that high in the draft. Lots of LBs are out of the league by that age.

    It would be cool to have a few starters like he and Browner on our team (I know, he hasn’t even made the team yet, but I like ‘feel good’ stories).

  7. DisplacedSeahawkFan says:

    A 4.7 40? Let’s be honest, he’s not going to make the final roster. I feel sorry for him, I really do. But I don’t want him on our final 53 man roster if he’s not better than one of the LB’s we currently have. Really, I don’t even want him on the practice squad if he’s not better than someone else.

    I read somewhere else that he’s still eligible to play in college. He should go that route until he’s NFL ready. Moreover, sadly, it’s unlikely that he’ll earn a spot on any team’s NFL roster. If he goes to college at least he’ll have a degree.

  8. Hammajamma says:

    Hollywood ending if he hangs on. Tears, inspirational score, Sandra Bullock.

  9. Skavage says:

    Considering PC sort of referenced that he’s not in playing shape, it will be interesting to see where his 40 time is once he is in playing shape. Could it drop into that low 4.6 area? What’s the typical LB have?

    His story really is so inspirational that you just gotta pull for the guy. I’d love to see him earn a spot and maybe become one of those standout speical teams players (or even more).

    Heck, maybe he’s got potential to convert to FB. Spend a year on the PS backing up Robinson in case of injury.

  10. chuck_easton says:


    You did read the part of the story where Banks says he has to “talk it over with his agent”?

    Hiring an agent means instant loss of college eligibility.

  11. DisplacedSeahawkFan says:


    I did not know that. The NCAA should make an exception for him, though. Under the circumstances, if he did decide to appeal that rule, I’d bet that the NCAA would allow him to play in college. But what do I know.

  12. bird_spit says:

    Try him out, ship him / sponsor his trip to Canada, and see how things look next year.

    I love the story, but really…

  13. princeaden says:

    Been out of the loop for a bit. Did we ever sign Turbin to a contract ?

  14. Dukeshire says:

    Yes sir. 4 year, $2.55 deal.

  15. princeaden says:

    Thank you Sir !!

  16. huffington says:

    USC should do the right thing and honor his scholarship it was going to give him to play football.

  17. wabubba67 says:

    Uh, Pete? I love you, but it’s not a second chance. It’s giving Banks a first chance that should have never been taken away from him.

  18. TomlPDX says:

    No matter what happens, I hope he comes out on top. I could see being on the PS the first year and getting into proper shape and coached…the next year would be telling. If Brian has the innate talent that is eluded to, then a year on the PS would get him into NFL shape and ready. If he came into the league this year he’d probably get badly hurt. The guy hasn’t had the coaching and teaching that the rest of these elite athletes have. Give him the chance if he has the elite talent but don’t put him in harms way…which I don’t think Pete would do.

  19. I see a injury at the end of camp for him. Ten months of rehab will improve that speed. hard work and work hard

  20. Hammajamma says:

    I thought the league had pretty much cracked down on using the IR as a practice squad stash. Does that still go on?

  21. RDPoulsbo says:

    Let’s keep things in perspective. If there’s room for Alex Baron on the 90 man roster, then there’s room for Banks. While it is possible that he can be the #7 LB, I’m guessing Sam since it’s the least critical position on defense, more realistically, PS for a year before seeing a roster spot. I don’t think many teams will chance snatching him if that’s the case.

    I really don’t care about his 40 time. Straight line speed means no more to him than any other LB out there. If he can do some good on ST coverage units then he may be worth a shot, so why not?

  22. I am sure stashing on the IR still happens – but they just have to be far more creative and detailed as to the injuries.

  23. JazBadAzz says:

    Thanks for that eligibility issue Eric, I’ve been wondering whats the deal with that for a while now! great job!

    There will beno room on the PS for him, fortunately for us, we are getting stacked and I like the depth. Good luck to him but he just needs to play some ball. Arena, Cfl, Semi-pro or something.

    It would be really sad for us, if he beats out the LB’s we have, I mean PC and JS have been butter when it comes to putting this defense together. This would be a bigger story than that guy that won a superbowl after he was a bag boy for a grocery store! hmmmm

  24. LaCroix says:

    The woman who lied and put him in jail for 6 years should be thrown in jail.

  25. RDPoulsbo says:

    I say you can’t rule him out for getting the #7 spot on the team because going into the offseason, LB was arguably the weakest position on the team and that includes WR. If you look at the very bottom of the depth chart, it’s not that great. You’re looking at strictly STers there anyway. It may not be likely, but I can see how it’s possible to make the final cut.

  26. seahawk44 says:

    “It would be really sad for us, if he beats out the LB’s we have”

    I do not understand how you could say it would be sad for us. If Banks does make the roster it would be because he earned the spot, not because he is some sort of celebrity. So if he somehow “beats out” someone like McCoy or Ruud for the 7th LB roster spot, it would be a good thing and far from sad.

  27. hawkfan777 says:

    I don’t understand the concern with Brians 40 time. In the last draft there were several linebackers taken with 40’s in the mid 4.6 range. Luke Kuechly from Boston College ran a 4.58 and he was viewed as the best linebacker by many. Mid 4.6 range is good for a linebacker.

    By the way Leroy Hill ran a 4.65, KJ Wright ran a 4.75 and former Seahawk David Hawthorne ran a 4.66 at the combine.

  28. on Banks time from ESPN “Banks said he has run times in the 4.6-second range. T
    hat would place him in the top third of linebackers tested at the 2012 scouting combine”

  29. Dukeshire says:

    hawkfan777 / MauMau – Nice context fellas. It would be nice to know what his actual time yesterday was, though.

  30. Southendzone says:

    If he makes the team you can bet it will help the Hawks get another game or two flexed to prime time. He’s a huge story.

  31. This guy has had one tryout/workout and some of you are making assumptions on how the entire year will play out? The first mini-camp hasn’t even started yet. Give it a chance to play out a little. It will be a tough road for him as PC has said but let’s wait & see what happens.

  32. bird_spit says:

    Giving this more thought. His disadvantages are obvious right…no play or coaching time in 8-10 years. His huge advantage is his attitude, and God given athletic ability. The gift the system gave him is the lack of physical abuse for 8 or 9 years. He has low miles on his knees and other typical football nicks.

    Through his own time spent thinking, and obvious that his mother is a real great one to have brought him up the right way, he is a forgiving humble man. Unreal humble…do that to me, and I find a way to take vengeance. Brian Banks, we need you as an example in our society.

  33. seahawk44 says:

    Great points and post, BirdSpit

  34. Dukeshire says:

    Thanks for passing that along, Sandpoint. Fun read.

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