VU latest to offer Buford safety

Rock-steady fullback / safety <b>Yvan Banag</b> has been one of the major reasons Buford, Ga. High School (8-1) could be headed toward its fourth consecutive state championship. The 5-11, 197-pound Banag is now up to five big-time offers, with Vanderbilt the most recent to dangle a scholarship.

Now that Buford (Ga.) sophomore sensation Mark Standridge is back after a bout with mononucleosis, Yvan Banag's role has become a bit less obvious. Banag has drifted back to his customary, more quiet role as a blocking fullback and safety for Coach Dexter Wood's Wolves, the state's top 2A program.

But opposing coaches know how good Banag is. Greater Atlanta Christian coach Jimmy Chupp called him "one of the best players in the state" last week.

In last Friday's region-clinching 31-28 win over GAC, while Standridge racked up an amazing 240 yards on 34 carries, Banag had a comparatively quiet night, with 6 carries for 26 yards and a clutch third-down reception for 20 yards.

"We played with poise, like a family," Banag said nonchalantly, after the Wolves came from behind twice to win. "I made a couple of plays. Everybody made plays. I had one catch for a first down, and made a couple of tackles on defense."

The rock-steady Banag has been one of the major reasons Buford (8-1) could be headed toward its fourth consecutive state championship. After 47 straight victories for the program, Buford saw its amazing streak come to an end earlier this season with a loss to Central Gwinnett. But the Wolves have a new streak of six straight wins going, and last Friday's win sewed up another region championship.

Banag saw himself thrust into the role of every-down back in September and early October when Standridge was sidelined. Moved from fullback to tailback, he gained 141 yards against East Hall and 100 yards against Dawson County.

But Banag's most obvious gift on a football field may not be in running the ball, but in dealing out punishment, whether as a blocking fullback or a head-hunting safety. In college, he will almost assuredly play in the secondary.

The 5-11, 197-pound Banag is now up to five offers, with Vanderbilt the most recent to dangle a scholarship. Mississippi State, South Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest are his other suitors, with Georgia, Florida and Tulane showing interest.

"I don't have any favorites right now," he says.

Banag says he plans to take a number of official visits before choosing a college-- but don't count on that happening before Jan. 1. If Buford goes as deep into the state playoffs as it typically does, most of Banag's December weekends should be booked.


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