Senior Cornerback Nate Banks knows the ups and downs of being a cover corner in the SEC.
He learned the hard way last year in his first campaign as a starter and he's still tryin to overcome the results.
When spring ended, Nate found himself on the second team behind sophomore Cassius Vaughn.
"I actually had a pretty good spring. I've been working hard to make progress and I've gotten some confidence back I lost last year," said Banks. "When I look back on last year, and watch films, I know I was in position to make a lot of plays. My goal this spring is to start making the plays I didn't make, and should have made, last season.
"Last spring, I thought I knew what to expect, but I really didn't. This spring, I knew what to expect and that helped me make some good strides in improving."
Nate is working with a new mentor this season - Defensive Coordinator John Thompson, who is also working individually with the corners.
"Coach Thompson has put in some different techniques and different looks that I think will help all of us be better corners," he continued. "The disguise package is very good. It has allowed us some freedom to do some things we didn't do before and puts us in some better positions to make plays, I think."
Nate said the new looks, at times, confused the Rebel quarterbacks in spring.
"Everything we do starts out looking like cover two, but you don't really know if we are in man, zone or cover two. That gives us an advantage in that receivers don't instantly know what coverage we are in," he added. "Coach Thompson is a coach you can really get attached to. He's a teacher. He teaches you how to do it right and fixes things as they pop up.
"The new techniques were difficult at first, but the more we learned the easier they got. The more we saw positive results, the better we got at the new stuff we were doing."
Nate said Thompson kept things simple in terms of the pressure package in spring, but he expects more in the fall.
"It's the same defense, but there are some tweaks and I think Coach Thompson will expand the blitz package because he likes pressure," he stated.
Banks said he understands why he has been relegated to number two status - for now, but he says he's not discouraged. In fact, he says just the opposite.
"I know I have to compete and make the most of every rep. Coach O and Coach Thompson want to create competition and every player knows we have to perform to win a job," he explained. "That's fair and I'm happy to go out there and work hard to see if I can win the job. It's extra motivation for me."
Banks said the development of the corners this spring has been boosted by the experience of the Rebel receivers.
"The receivers now know what they are doing and that keeps you on your toes more. Their experience is showing now and that's helped us stay focused and intense on every practice rep," he noted. "The quarterbacks have also matured a lot. Their decision-making has improved. All those things have helped everyone get better."
Nate said he's not going to worry about who is starting and who is not during the offseason. He knows there's a place on the team for him.
"I've tried to become more of a leader, helping the young corners and working hard. I will continue to work hard in the offseason and give my best. Whatever happens will happen. All I know is I will be competing to get the position back," he stated.
And when his opportunity comes, he wants to erase the memory of 2006.
"I know I can play better and I will if I earn the chance," he closed.
Nate Banks update -
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