September 8, 2010

Banks is a dual-threat defensive back

Johnthan Banks arrived a Mississippi State last year as a tall, rail thin athlete from a tiny Class 1A school.

The Bulldogs began practicing Banks at cornerback and utilizing him some on special teams. But when Zach Smith went out for the season they turned to the true freshman to fill the void at safety.

Not only did the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder start the final seven games but he excelled enough to earn SEC All-Freshman honors. Banks finished the year with 33 tackles, seven pass deflections and four interceptions, two of which he took back for touchdowns against Florida's Tim Tebow.

Smith's recovery along with the emergence of Nickoe Whitley has allowed Banks to move back to corner but he will continue to bounce between the two secondary positions.

"I felt good out there," Banks said. "I feel like I'm an athlete out there on the field and I can play both spots. Coach just puts in the best position to make plays and where we feel comfortable at. We've got certain packages where I play safety and certain packages where I play corner. I just go out there and do that the coaches tell me to."

The Maben, Miss., native started at cornerback but moved back to safety before the end of the night in the Bulldogs 49-7 opening win over Memphis. He finished the game with three tackles and one pass broken up.

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