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Banks' time to shine
090713 GSU FOOTBALL 02 WEB
Georgia Southern fullback William Banks emerges from the pile for a 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against St. Francis at Paulson Stadium on Sept. 7. It was the first of three touchdowns for Banks in the game. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file

Chattanooga (2-1) at Ga. Southern (2-1, 0-1)
Saturday, 6 p.m.
Paulson Stadium

    William Banks wasn’t recruited to be “the man” at Georgia Southern. For that matter, Banks wasn’t recruited at all.
    But, the walk-on from Augusta Christian High School could find himself playing a key role for the Eagles when they face Chattanooga at 6 p.m., on Saturday at Paulson Stadium.
    When it comes to running backs, coach Jeff Monken finds himself in dire straits as Georgia Southern prepares to take on one of the Southern Conference’s top teams. After Monday’s practice Monken said, “I don’t know if we have a healthy running back, period. Not one for the game.”
    The feature back in the Eagles’ triple option offense is the B-back, which is Banks’ position.
    It is also junior Dominique Swope’s position, but he remains slowed by offseason shoulder surgery. Among the backups, James Dean is out for the season with an elbow injury, Nardo Govan and Irving Huggins were hurt in preseason, and Banks and Chris Jordan are dinged.
    With a promising season on the verge of suddenly turning south after a 30-20 loss at Wofford, the fifth-year senior could find himself in the spot light in what is now Georgia Southern’s (2-1, 0-1) biggest game of the young season.
    It’s not that Banks has suddenly blossomed into the best back on the roster. But, he appears to be the healthiest of the bunch, and could very well get the starting nod against the Mocs (2-1, 0-0) who will be playing their conference opener.
    “He’s hurt, not injured,” Monken said of Banks, explaining a hurt player can play, but an injured one can’t.
    At the beginning of the week Swope was in injured status. Hopefully by game day he will be upgraded to hurt.
    Should Banks start it would be his second of the season, and fourth of his career. Banks started against St. Francis, Pa., this year, and against Chattanooga and Appalachian State last year.
Banks has made the most of his opportunities. He had 442 yards rushing and four touchdowns while playing in all 14 games last year. This season he has three touchdowns—all against St. Francis as Swope sat out—with 128 yards rushing and one catch for six yards.
    “He’s a kid that gets after it, a tough kid,” Monken said. “He’s a hard working kid who is loved by his teammates because of the journeyman role he’s played.
    “He’s been a walk-on guy every year except this year,” Monken said. “He’s gone on scholarship (this season) and I’m really happy for him. He’s played some big games for us, and made some big plays.”
    Regardless of Swope’s status Banks will be ready for whatever comes his way. Three years on the scout squad has a way of toughening you up physically and mentally.
    “It’s been a roller coaster until the last two years,” Banks said of his career. “I knew it was going to be tough when I came here, but I’ve had multiple injuries.
    “It’s humbling (being put on scholarship),” Banks said. “I’m proud to know Coach has confidence in me. I wouldn’t say being on the scout team is tough, but I’ve been through a tougher path (than those who came in on scholarship).
    “If you can play you’re going to play. There’s no politics with the coaches here. Everyone gets his chance.”
    Banks, obviously, has made the most of those chances and his work ethic has not been lost on those around him.
    Dorian Byrd is a senior who came to Georgia Southern on scholarship and started all 14 games at offensive tackle as a true freshman. He watched Banks as both a scout team player, and one who has been a varsity player the last two years.
    “He did some incredible things on the scout team,” Byrd said. “We all have a tremendous amount of respect for William for what he has been through, and what he’s doing for us now. We’ve got confidence in him and believe in him.
    “William has worked hard and showed humility,. I’ve blocked for him and his brother Lee and they are both workhorses. He’s just like Lee except I think he’s faster.”
    Lee Banks, William’s older brother, came to Georgia Southern as a walk-on defensive back under Chris Hatcher, but was moved to running back in Monken’s first year.
    Lee Banks was a scout team player who saw his first varsity game action as a senior, gaining eight yards on two carries against Savannah State in a 48-3 win. Later due to injuries he was forced into action against an Elon team ranked 10th in the nation. He responded with 121 yards on 25 carries in a 38-21 win, and earned starts against Wofford and Chattanooga.