Bankhead keys on classroom, Cougs

BEFORE KEAUNTEA BANKHEAD headed to Dixie State College, he talked about his future plans for attending Washington State, not Washington, after receiving his AA degree. The star safety out of Seattle is being kept up to date on the happenings in Pullman via two former Ballard High teammates and has talked to the WSU coaching staff since enrolling in junior college. While he works out religiously -- and has the size to show for it -- his main focus above all else these days is on the academics.

In 2004, Bankhead signed his Letter of Intent to Washington but fell about 50 points short on the SAT. He's currently in St. George, Utah., attending Dixie State and said while it's a ways down the road, he intends to don the crimson and gray after receiving his AA degree. The Parade All-American out of Ballard High in Seattle also has an eye on fast tracking his JC stay, with plans to be eligible for 2006 spring ball.

Bankhead might be in Utah but he's being kept up to date on all the happenings in Pullman. Current Cougs and fellow Ballard alums Cole Morgan (6-3, 194, QB) and Tony Thompson (6-2, 236, TE) are staying in close contact with he and Dixie teammate J.T. Diederichs.

"They call me and J.T. a lot," Bankhead said. "Cole just called me (recently). We talk often."

The former Seattle Times state player of the year also rang up WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey not too long ago, whose high-flying passion for the game translates just fine over the phone lines.

"That was good," said Bankhead. "He gets you in that football mood."

Bankhead currently checks in at a stacked 220 pounds spread across his 6-0 frame. That's about 15 pounds more than when he played in the state title game as a senior at Ballard High.

"My senior year I was probably benching about 265," he said. "Right now, I'm more like 315 -- I did that twice the other day."

BANKHEAD LIFTS WEIGHTS six times a week these days while works on conditioning drills every day. The result has been the extra size while maintaining the speed and quickness that translated to ranking the four-star prospect as the No. 10 safety in the nation in 2004.

"I know I'm not going to be the absolute fastest guy on the field but my skill lies in that I'm going to move quick," said Bankhead, who ran a 4.5 in the 40 at Ballard. "I'm not the slowest guy on the field either -- I can move."

Bankhead moved to the tune of 2,459 all-purpose yards and 27 TDs on offense and special teams his senior year, and could see some time on that side of the ball for the Rebels but his main contribution will be at the strong safety spot at Dixie.

A sure tackler, disruptive presence and a constant threat to blitz, Bankhead has been called one of the hardest hitting safety prospects to ever come out of the state of Washington. He racked up 78.5 tackles, (66 solo) while recording 10 tackles for loss with five sacks his final year at Ballard. He was the consensus player of the year in the state of Washington.

But right now Bankhead's goals don't revolve around football -- they're instead trained upon the classroom.

"I've set a few goals -- but they're not football goals right now," said Bankhead. "I just want to concentrate on my grades now that I'm here. That's my main focus right now. When football season comes around, I'll set some goals for that."

Keauntea Bankhead profile

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