Banking on His Future

ATHENS - So far, Quintin Banks has more writing on his passport than on his career statistics sheet at the University of Georgia.

This spring, the passport is going to take an even bigger lead. Banks – a 6-foot-2, 220-pound rising junior who plays safety for the Bulldogs – is taking advantage of the school's study abroad program to take two classes in Costa Rica.

"I'm really excited," said Banks. "I'm really fortunate to be able to go over there. It's going to be really interesting."

Banks has never been to that part of the world, but that's not to say he's a homebody. Thanks to a father in the Air Force who is stationed in Italy, Banks has traveled throughout Europe. He tries to visit his father each May, and the pair travel during that time period.

Banks' father is stationed on a U.S. military base that houses about 10,000 American troops from all three branches of the military in Naples, Italy. Don't get too excited at the sound of that tourist destination, though. It's not what you see in the travel brochures, Banks said.

"He stays on the south side of Naples. The north side of Naples is really nice. South Naples is where we stayed. It's OK. It's not bad, but it's not North Naples at all," Banks said.

Banks' dad may retire soon, which would cut back on Quintin's travel – not to mention give his statistics on the field time to catch up with his globe-trotting numbers.

After three seasons in Athens, Banks has amassed only eight career tackles. After redshirting in 2006, Banks (a native of Houston County due to his father's time at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins), Banks amassed all of those numbers in 2007, and half of those came in one game, when he had four stops against Ole Miss. His career total of 1.5 tackles-for-loss also came in that one game against the Rebels.

Those numbers were respectable for a reserve, and 2008 was supposed to be Banks' year. Instead, he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee during preseason practice. After returning to play in the Tennessee game, Banks re-injured his knee and missed the rest of the season.

Even when spring practice rolled around, Banks still was slowed by the knee injury, which hurt his chances of filling the safety spot the Bulldogs have open opposite Reshad Jones.

Banks was recruited to be just that player. At Houston County High School, he was named a first-team all-state player and the state's best safety as a senior. He racked up 193 tackles, two interceptions, 22 pass break ups, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, two blocked kicks and 174 yards of total offense playing for the Bears and head coach Doug Johnson.

"I just have to work my way back in, and hopefully help the team out," Banks said. "It's all about the team. It's not about me. If I have to sit on the sidelines and cheer, then that's what I've got to do."

That is Banks' attitude on the good days. Not all the days are good days, though, he admits.

"Naturally, it's a frustration, but the guys here have made it a lot better," he said. "They still make me feel like I'm one of the guys. It's just going to take time. It's definitely a process. It really hurts to just look out and watch. I try to stay positive for the most part; sometimes I'm not. I'm not going to lie to you."

Banks, though, won't be thinking about those frustrations in Costa Rica. Instead, he'll be focused on completing his degree in drawing. In college athletics, many athletes end up in three to four tried-and-true courses of study that are the most flexible around their athletics schedule. Drawing, though, is a different matter. In fact, Banks is the only Bulldog majoring in it.

"It's been a hobby of mine for the longest," he said. "I've always drawn, and it's just something I love to do. I came here to be a marketing major, but that didn't really work out. I just felt like if I did something that I loved and was passionate about (it would work out). I asked around, and I talked to some drawing professors who think I'm really good at it. I think I can proceed in that."

As a kid, Banks started his artistic career drawing cartoons before moving to animals and then to people. He is concentrating this summer on improving his drawing of the human form.

He also acknowledged he may some day draw ON the human form. Banks, like many of his teammates, sports a large tattoo on each arm. Unlike most of his teammates, Banks' artwork is based on sketches he drew.

Banks also has drawn out tattoos for other Bulldogs.

"I've actually looked into (being a tattoo artist)," he said. "That part's just a hobby, but maybe I can make something out of it."

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