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MADISON - Spending the summer working on narrowing his wide array of offers down to more manageable number, Thornton Township High (Ill.) defensive back Jalen Banks made the first step in ending his recruitment by coming out with his top six schools in the middle of August.
He took the next step this past weekend by starting his official visits with a trip up to the University of Wisconsin.
"I really enjoyed myself," Banks told Badger Nation. "I got a chance to enjoy the game and experience Camp Randall. I enjoyed spending time with the players and the coaches on the sidelines. I also got to see the players off the field and what kind of athletes the coaches recruit."
The visit for the 6-0, 190-pound Banks – a three-star athlete ranked the No.49 cornerback in the country by Scout.com – was his third trip to UW's campus and a trip that allowed him to talk with defensive coordinator Chris Ash and secondary coach Ben Strickland.
"It was real good," said Banks. "I'm building a good relationship with Coach Ash and Coach Strickland. It was awesome. Both are defensive back coaches and are good people. They've definitely have showed that they want me to play for them and are good guys."
Defensive backs are a premium in Wisconsin's 2013 recruiting class and with the Badgers already having a verbal commitment from Minneapolis' Keelon Brookins, UW coach Bret Bielema made it clear that Banks was one of the top remaining players on its recruiting board.
"We talked about life, football and how much they needed a guy like me," said Banks. "They have three seniors in the secondary right now, so those guys will be gone. They have a lot of people leaving, and they need some guys for good competition."
"The guys were pretty down to the earth," said Banks. "They don't get too full of themselves. James is a good defensive end who is going to be a good player for the program and Ball is a Heisman finalist. They both told me Wisconsin is a great place, a lot of fun things to do and a strong program with good coaches that are going to get you right. The coaches definitely take care of you and have your best interests in mind."
Originally narrowing his list of offers down to Wisconsin, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Iowa and Illinois, Banks will return to Vanderbilt when the Commodores host Florida Oct. 13. Banks is also hoping to return to Oregon for an official visit for either the game against Washington (Oct.6) or Stanford (Nov.17).
"I am still trying to decide on my last two visits, if I haven't committed by then, between Nebraska, Wake Forest, Iowa and Illinois," said Banks. "I really wasn't considered Nebraska or Wake Forest, but I have heard good things about them from my coaches."
With the team goal of a state championship, Banks has been productive on both sides of the ball, playing wide receiver and defensive back. Through five games and his team's 4-1 record, Banks has a fumble recovery, a forced fumble, an interception, a blocked punt and a blocked field goal.
"I've been making some plays and trying to make plays whenever I can," said Banks.