When he was suspended for the first three games of the 2014 season, it was a time spent reflecting on things he had done wrong and was a reality check that forced him to take a little hit to his ego. But more importantly, it was a chance to remember the simple fact that at any time something could happen that could take football away from him for good.
"I took (football) for granted. We all take things for granted every day and we don't even think about it," Banks said. "We have all been blessed with so many things and we have the opportunities to do great things, and sometimes you don't really appreciate it until it's taken from you."
Banks was suspended early during preseason camp for an undisclosed academic issue, forcing him to be able to do nothing but watch from the side as his teammates continued to work and play against West Virginia's non-conference schedule. But even while he was going through one of the toughest things he has gone through during his career, he tried to keep a positive outlook on things.
"It hurt. It felt like I was empty and missing something," he said. "Everything happens for a reason. That's something I live by. We're going to go through things in life, and how you deal with them is what makes you the person you are."
A native of Richmond, Va., Banks had played in all but two games during his first three seasons playing for the Mountaineers. He started all 12 games a year ago and was hoping to get into his senior year and form a formidable cornerback duo with sophomore Daryl Worley in the Mountaineer secondary.
Instead, he found himself spending the early portion of his final season in Morgantown relegated to the scout team. He was working with freshmen and other young players still trying to make a name for themselves and catch the attention of the WVU coaching staff. And he knew that, even in that role, he was going to do all he could to make the best of the situation.
“I had to tell myself, ‘You got yourself into this. Now do your time and do your best to get ready,’” Banks said. “I had to keep myself motivated and keep a positive attitude.
“If I would have gone out there with a nonchalant attitude and slacked off, I probably wouldn’t have been able to step in and play at a high level against Oklahoma.”
Banks returned a few weeks ago for West Virginia’s Big 12 opener against the Sooners, totaling five tackles and playing every snap. He admitted he had some butterflies heading into the game and was a little surprised he was in good enough game shape to play as many snaps as he did after being on the scout team and out of actual game action for so long. But, at the end of the day, it was like riding a bike for the senior.
You never really forget how to do it.
“I had been in the situation before. You just go out there and play. There’s nothing else you can do but go play,” he said. “It’s football.
“It makes it more enjoyable. You don’t know how much you miss it until it’s gone. I’m just thankful to be back and I’m just ready to win.”Crazy Catch Video: Hooking A Bizarre Sawfish