UT Banks on James

Fresno State defenders probably were surprised by the athleticism Tennessee's James Banks showed in Saturday's season opener. Some Vol fans probably were surprised, as well. But UT head man Phillip Fulmer wasn't.

Banks, a converted quarterback, caught a game-high seven passes for a game-high 80 yards as Tennessee prevailed 24-6. One of his catches was a spectacular 36-yarder that set up the game's first touchdown. Another was a short crossing route that he turned into UT's final touchdown.

None of this surprised Fulmer one bit. The Vol skipper conceded as much Sunday evening after reviewing the game films.

''Even when he was playing quarterback, most of what he got done was due to his athletic ability,'' Fulmer said of Banks, a 6-3, 190-pound sophomore from Indianapolis.

If anything, the Vol boss seemed a bit shocked that Banks didn't make an even bigger impact on the game's outcome.

''I think when he watches the films, he'll see four or five opportunities he had to make big plays,'' Fulmer said.

While Banks' knack for big plays didn't surprise the head man, his success in other areas did.

''He competed hard, blocked and was very unselfish as far as doing the dirty work,'' Fulmer said. ''That's a pretty big transition -- being a quarterback, then throwing blocks on linebackers.''


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