Thoughts and observations after watching Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and free-agent linebacker Brian Banks address reporters following Banks' tryout Thursday:
The Seahawks have posted video from Carroll and from Banks. The excitement over the possibilities was palpable. Carroll called Banks a "solid natural athlete" with "good natural quickness" and flexibility. But after a wrongful conviction ended Banks' high school career and sent him to prison for six years, the 26-year-old prospect faces long odds. Carroll: "We're going to support the chance and have a vision for what he could become more than what he is today and see where it goes."
Banks realizes much work lies ahead and that he is only starting out. At the risk of seeing what someone rooting for Banks might see, I thought he projected maturity, perspective, intelligence and personality. He seemed credible when saying this opportunity would not define him. He said he has plans for his life regardless.
Banks said he played one season with Long Beach City College following his parole, but new requirements forcing parolees to wear tracking devices made continuing his career impractical. The NCAA allows players a five-year window to play four seasons. Banks played at Long Beach City in 2007. I don't know if he could have pursued college football opportunities outside the NCAA, but accepting a pro tryout can compromise an athlete's amateur status. "Why not shoot for the stars?" Banks said.
Banks said he measured 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds. That is prototypical size for an NFL linebacker. The Seahawks' current linebackers average about 235 pounds based on listed weights. Seattle has less depth at linebacker than at some positions, but even mentioning where Banks might fit is extraordinarily premature. He hasn't even formally accepted the team's offer to attend minicamp on a tryout basis next week. Banks said he would go over options with his agent, Bruce Tollner.
Banks said he ran a 40-yard dash, but did not know his time. He said he has run times in the 4.6-second range. That would place him in the top third of linebackers tested at the 2012 scouting combine. Carroll: "He's very coordinated, good natural quickness, very good flexibility, he jumped well, he caught the ball real well ... his hand-eye coordination was there. You can just see, he's not in the kind of condition that our guys need to be in. So this week in particular will not be a great indication, but it will be a start and we’ll see where it goes from there."