One of the most prized high school linebacker recruits in the country, Banks had committed to play for Pete Carroll at USC. At the time, the Trojans were one of the pre-eminent teams in college football and had a reputation for developing players and sending them off to the NFL to earn their fame and fortune. Banks was expected to be another in that growing legacy.
However, it came crashing down for him 10 years ago as the 16-year-old high school football star at Long Beach Poly High School became a prisoner. Banks was charged and convicted of rape and kidnapping. He was sent to prison for the crime, served a five-year term, and after his release had to sign up as a registered sex offender. Throughout that time, Banks maintained his innocence.
Last year, the California Innocence Project took on his case. As part of its investigation, Banks' accuser recanted her story. Last month, Banks was exonerated of the crime, taken off the sex offender list and, for the first time since being a high school junior, was truly a free man.
Despite not playing organized football since high school, Banks has become a redemption story as he looks to re-start his dream of playing in NFL – possibly with the Vikings.
Last week, Banks was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Thursday he worked out for Carroll, who now coaches the Seattle Seahawks. On Friday, he worked out with the San Diego Chargers. In a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Banks' attorney said that he has been contacted by the Vikings, 49ers and Redskins for potential private workouts at their team facilities.
It's unclear if being away from the game for so long has eroded Banks' skills – neither Seattle nor San Diego has offered him a contract, but Seattle did an extend an invitation to the team's minicamp next week. Whether the Vikings will see enough in one workout (or if it happens at all) still makes Banks a huge long shot. But, given what he's been through already, he's the kind of player that is easy to cheer for, whether it's with the Vikings or someone else.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.