By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Johnthan Banks played several positions in high school, but wide receiver wasn’t one of them. He might get a shot there this fall.
Mississippi State’s All-SEC cornerback lined up at receiver during Saturday’s Maroon-White spring game, making one catch for 17 yards.
“I don’t think coach will put me out there in the regular season, but it was fun, it was an adventure,” Banks said. “It was my first time getting out there since I was in eighth grade.”
Back in August, head coach Dan Mullen mentioned the possibility of using Banks on offense. He’s 6-foot-2 and is one of the best leapers on the team, and his ball skills are evident by his 12 career interceptions.
Offensive coordinator Les Koenning said that when MSU signed Banks, he asked Mullen if he could use the East Webster High standout on offense. No dice.
“Now he’s very comfortable playing corner,” Mullen said. “Now that he has that, it’s a little bit easier to take some reps away and put him on offense.”
Evans makes move
Quay Evans should be worried about prom right about now, but the freshman defensive tackle enrolled in January so he could go through spring drills. In Saturday’s scrimmage, the Morton product made six tackles and three sacks.
“The biggest thing with Quay was just breaking some old habits, and we’ve still got a lot of work on those,” defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. “I think with the older guys around him who are setting the example for him, it’s really benefited him a lot.”
The highly rated prospect is learning the meaning of hard work, thanks in part to strength coach Matt Balis. Evans is 6-3, 300 pounds, and has the tools to be good.
“He knows how to use his body,” LB Cam Lawrence said. “He’s just raw, and I’m excited to be able to play behind him. He’s a freak in a good way.”
When asked which of MSU’s four running backs stood out this spring, Koenning didn’t mention LaDarius Perkins or Nick Griffin. The name that came out was Josh Robinson, the redshirt freshman.
“When you watch him, he’s very, very explosive,” Koenning said. “Josh is in that learning stage, too. It’s 50-50 if he gets the protection right.”
The bulk of carries this fall will likely go to Perkins and Griffin, but Robinson keeps making a case for playing time with his penchant for big plays. He broke off a 55-yard touchdown run Saturday.
“If you’ve got to start coaching a kid on how to make a cut and when to make a cut, it’s not going to be a very good year,” Koenning said “He’s not one of those guys. He’s one of those guys that you have to get him the ball and watch him.”
When Wilson was asked about the defense’s biggest question mark exiting spring, he said it was depth at safety. Starter Nickoe Whitley has been sidelined this spring as he recovers from a late-season Achilles’ tendon injury.
That’s meant more snaps for Dee Arrington, Jay Hughes and Louis Watson, among others. Whitley is expected to be healthy for the season.