In the Film Room: E.J. Banks

As a football coach I always enjoyed watching film of versatile football players. When you know a player has the versatility and ability to play multiple positions it makes it so much easier to recruit him. You don't worry as much about what position those types of players will play.

You just do what you can to get them on campus and trust that their abilities will dictate when and where they play. For the Notre Dame coaches one player who fits that bill is Montour High School standout E.J. Banks. There isn't one clip I've seen of him playing cornerback, which is the position he is being recruited to play at Notre Dame. So my evaluation won't have a lot of technique talk or what he needs to improve upon in order to become an even better player in college. But there is plenty of film to show how good of a football player Banks is, and that is just as important, if not more so, than what position he might project at.

Banks has good height for a defensive back prospect and is listed between 5'11 and 6'0. He also has relatively long arms for a player his size which should help him as a cornerback at the line of scrimmage and when going after footballs. One concern I had when I initially watched Banks film was his thin frame. He doesn't appear to have the body to make great weight strides and won't get that much bigger. In this regard he is similar to Darrin Walls, the last western Pennsylvania defensive back the Irish landed. As I watched his film my concerns about his size diminished. Banks is very strong for his size and in no way shies away from contact. I will get more into that later.

Most of the film available on Banks is as a running quarterback for his Montour team. Banks played in the backfield last season with North Carolina signee Christian Wilson. Wilson is the bigger player but Banks was the game-breaker. Banks is a very good athlete and possesses good speed. While he isn't a burner I like the fact he gets to full speed with his first couple of steps. This made him very hard to bring down in the backfield as a quarterback. The McKees Rocks, PA native is shifty and elusive in the open field and in a crowd. He is able to cut quickly and accelerate. His good foot quickness is good and leads me to believe he has the ability to backpedal well, although I haven't seen him do it. Banks has shown smooth hips with the ball in his hands and is able to change direction with ease. This is another trait I see in Banks that leads me to believe he has upside as a defensive back.

Vision ties into all these traits with Banks. Not only is he able to move quickly he also senses defenders around him and is able to make them miss. Combine that with good strength and very good balance and you why Banks is able to break so many tackles in high school. As with most quarterbacks Banks has very good hands. He catches the ball easily, naturally, and away from his body. He even does this as a defensive back, which I really like. On offense and defense Banks has shown explosiveness when having to get off the ground. I've seen him hurdle defenders and leap for the end zone. He bounces off the ground very quickly and gets good height. As a safety he has shown the same traits. He makes quick plays on the football and gets up after the football quickly. Combine that with his long arms and those are two reasons I see him being a potential ball hawk in college. He seems to be an intelligent player on the field and shows very good instincts by breaking on the ball quickly.

I discussed earlier I initially had concerns about Banks size. In almost all of my evaluations I talk about a players frame. Can he get bigger, does he have upside to get stronger, and if he isn't strong does he seem to have the body to get to that point? Those are questions I try to ask myself about these players. Banks doesn't appear to have the body to put on a lot of weight and that is a concern. He showed toughness on offense but I wanted to see if he was going to be able to hit anyone. I was very impressed watching Banks on defense. He's a very aggressive football player. He isn't overly powerful but definitely mixes it up. He flies to the football and closes quickly on ball carriers. He goes from off the screen to the ball carrier in a flash. Unlike most undersized cornerbacks he drives through ball carriers as well. The 175 pound standout also takes very good angles to the football. Combine that with the fact he wraps up well and knows how to get low and you see a very effective tackler. Those are the attributes that took away my concerns about his size at the next level. He won't ever be considered a big player, but with his combination of athletic skills, strength, toughness, and technique there are no concerns about him being able to hold up in the secondary in college.

I have no idea what position E.J. Banks will end up playing in college. He has the foot quickness and fluid hips to play cornerback, which suits his body type well. He has the instincts, range, and aggressiveness to play safety. He has the speed, agility, vision, and hands to play wide receiver. If he were set on playing quarterback he could likely go to a spread or option team and be a successful quarterback. To me it doesn't really matter what he projects as in college. This young man is a football player and will find himself a position wherever he goes. He would be a big addition to the football program at Notre Dame.


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