31 Flavors of Football: Banks Just a Country Dude

To help you and me get through the drudgery of August, I will present in this space a daily scoop of MSU football-ness, as inspired by a certain ice cream chain. August has 31 days, so I’ll let you work it out from there. Here is today’s flavor.


The first time I tried to find East Webster High School, to cover a baseball game many years ago, I got plumb lost. I also wasn’t sure whether to dateline my story Cumberland or Maben. That school is truly in the boonies.

That’s the school where Johnthan Banks was a multi-sport star before signing with Mississippi State in 2009. He’s now a senior cornerback, and one of the best in the country at his position. He’s NFL-bound after this season, perhaps as a first-round pick, and thus will be collecting a nice, fat paycheck. I have a feeling it won’t change him much.

Banks is about as country as they come, and I mean that as a compliment. He loves horses, is an admitted homebody, and his dream career is to become a Mississippi state trooper. He’d wear the mirrored shades and big hat well.

Being country brings with it certain stereotypes, and some small-town guys – of which there are several of MSU’s roster – live down to those to varying degrees. Banks, however, is sharp and well-spoken. He doesn’t really enjoy giving interviews, but you can tell he likes to talk, and he’s very quotable. He should be able to handle the NFL press fairly well.

Banks is MSU’s most prominent player this year – he’s featured on a billboard on the outskirts of Starkville – and he’s the kind of guy the marketing department and coaches like to highlight. He’s a poster boy for Dan Mullen’s in-state recruiting efforts.

Banks burst onto the scene in 2009, when as a freshman he intercepted Tim Tebow twice and returned both for touchdowns. On the first, a 100-yard runback, the announcer mispronounced Banks’ hometown as “Maden.” Hopefully, the TV guys have that straightened out by now.

By the way, we use a Cumberland dateline on all stories written from East Webster. I believe Maben has more population, though, so there’s that.