Banjo Talks With PonyStampede.com!

Going into the off-season, the SMU secondary went looking for answers. One member of that defensive backfield that will be back is safety Chris Banjo. A freshman last season, Banjo recorded 61 tackles and 1 interception in his first year on the Hilltop. Earlier this week PonyStampede.com talked with the soon to be sophomore. If you don't have a premium membership you are missing out!

After allowing 253 yards passing a game last season, the SMU secondary went into this off-season looking for answers.

One member of that defensive backfield that will be back is safety Chris Banjo. A freshman last season, Banjo recorded 61 tackles and 1 interception in his first year on the Hilltop.

After playing at 188 pounds for most of the 2008 season, Banjo has used the off-season and his training from Coach Viloria to gain close to 10 pounds of muscle. It's the soon to be sophomore's goal to be at 200 pounds when spring practices start.


Talk to me about how your off-season is going and is it different than you expected?
CB:"Well personally for me my off-season is going great. From a team standpoint we are making a lot of improvement. A lot of the guys are talking about how this season needs to be based on production and not potential. Everyone is talking about how this team has so much potential, but at the end of the day we know it's all about production and not potential. Every guy is coming in here with a new mindset."


How hard is the training and how has this off-season compared to one in high school.
CB: "I expected it. My cousin played at SMU and he talked about his transition from high school to college was one of the toughest in his life. It's a lot harder, but physically I have always been able to put up weight. For me it's a mental thing. Pushing myself to get better. There are so many other players around the nation trying to do the same thing that I'm doing.


Talk a little a bit about the secondary in particular. How has its off-season been and what kind of approach are you taking into the spring."
CB: "People can't just put everyone on the secondary, but we like to put it on ourselves. We like to think that we are one of the strongest points on defense. We have come together as a group and realize that the defense is only as strong as the secondary.

"We have some really good recruits coming in, including a transfer. That will help. We made so many mental mistakes last year. We know that we have the talent, but we need just to have some chemistry and bring it together."


You talked about the recruits, how closely do you follow it?
CB: "I try to keep up. I try to keep tabs on it, especially at the secondary position. I like to know what kind of players are coaches are recruiting and what kind of players are interested in our program."


A lot of people think you can emerge as an All-Conference USA type of player. When you hear that, what do you think?
CB: "Honestly I try to not pay attention to all of that. I try to just do whatever I can to help the defense out the most. I try to prepare myself week by week and do what my coaches say. That would be a great honor, but that is not my main goal right now. My only goal is to try to help this program. If that eventually leads me to an All-Conference player, that is a great honor from god."


A lot of people were excited about your play last season. What should they expect from you as a sophomore. What have you learned from the coaches, other players, and film?
CB: After sitting down with Coach Mason and Coach Odum, I learned that I had some jitters last year as a freshman. I knew what I was doing, but I always second-guessed myself. It limited to me to making big plays at times. I would watch film and think, I could have done this or done that. I have become a lot more comfortable in our defensive schemes. I really think I can provide a spark on defensive and help make some big plays this next season. "


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