Nov. 9, 2009
- Hawkeye Game Day Blog (Ohio State)
- Kirk’s weekly television show on Hulu
- Hawkeye Football Gameday Central
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- Purchase your tickets online!
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Iowa Football wallpaper
Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Oct. 30 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Former University of Iowa quarterback Brad Banks comes from a modest origin. One luxury he had growing up in Belle Glade, Fla., was a large family. The type of family that always had a cousin or two waiting in the back yard to play a pickup game of football.
“We were always playing,” Banks said. “During the games, everyone was calling out Heisman and striking the pose and all that stuff. It was crazy how it happened when I went to New York (as a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2002) and I was getting calls from those same cousins. It seemed like yesterday when we were playing together, but I told them, `Yeah, but I’m the one that’s actually here now.'”
Then Banks flashed his signature smile and laugh.
Banks and the Hawkeyes had plenty of fans smiling in 2002 during a perfect run through the Big Ten Conference in an 11-2 season that ended at the Orange Bowl against No. 5 Southern California.
“I had a great team to play with and those guys are a part of my legacy,” Banks said. “From Fred Russell to C.J. Jones, Maurice Brown, Robert Gallery and Eric Steinbach. You can go on and on…Dallas Clark. My legacy is those guy’s legacy. They helped me be the player I was able to become. I came from humble grounds in Belle Glade and I wanted to shoot for the stars. I was able to do that with those guys.”
Banks attended Glades Central High School where he was first team all-state as a junior and senior. Banks originally attended the University of Central Florida, but transferred after his redshirt freshman season to Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss., where he played wide receiver as a freshman and quarterback as a sophomore. UI head football coach Kirk Ferentz was recruiting a defensive tackle from Hinds when the coach there pointed Banks out. At first, Ferentz shied away from signing a junior college quarterback.
“Brad is one of the great all-time stories, not only in Iowa football, but in college football history,” Ferentz said. “He was an excellent football player and he had such a pleasant demeanor. He was also a charismatic leader, which is kind of a contradiction in some ways, because Brad’s not outspoken. In fact, he says little. It’s rare to see players respond to a guy the way they responded to Brad.”
“Brad is one of the great all-time stories, not only in Iowa football, but in college football history. He was an excellent football player and he had such a pleasant demeanor. He was also a charismatic leader, which is kind of a contradiction in some ways, because Brad’s not outspoken. In fact, he says little. It’s rare to see players respond to a guy the way they responded to Brad.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
Banks played in 10 games in 2001 as a back-up to Kyle McCann. Iowa finished 7-5 and defeated Texas Tech, 19-16, in the Alamo Bowl. He started all 13 games in 2002, completing 57.8 percent of his passes for 2,573 yards and 26 touchdowns. Banks rushed for 423 yards and five scores. After the season he won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback, was named Associated Press College Football Player of the Year and finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy behind Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer.
“That was an awesome season,” Banks said. “There were a lot of early-morning starts and a lot of hard work. The coaches prepared us like crazy and they made sure we knew what we were doing when we stepped on the field. To hold up that trophy at the end of the year was something I’ll never forget and to share it with those guys that I played with is truly something special.”
There are at least three highlights for Banks from the 2002 season. The first was a 31-28 Homecoming victory against Purdue.
“Purdue had our number that whole afternoon,” Banks said. “The last drive to seal the deal was probably the biggest part of that year for us. It was a tough day, but we manned-up and got the play we needed.”
`The Play’ was a 7-yard game-winning touchdown pass from Banks to Clark with 1:07 remaining.
A second highlight for Banks was at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, following Iowa’s 45-21 win against the Gophers.
“When they tried to get the goalposts out of the Dome, that was pretty nice,” laughed Banks.
A third highlight was returning to Florida to play in the Orange Bowl.
“That was an amazing view with all the black and gold sitting in the stands,” Banks said. “I wish some of the fans were able to see it from my view. Too bad we couldn’t get the win, but it was still a great day for the Hawkeye Nation and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Banks graduated from the UI with a degree in sports studies. He was signed by the Washington Redskins of the National Football League as a free agent. After his release, Banks played five seasons with Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal in the Canadian Football League. His most productive season was 2004 with Ottawa, when Banks completed 67 of 106 passes (63.2 percent) for 849 yards and seven touchdowns. He rushed 20 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He is currently a free agent.
“The environment is a little bit different in Canada than it is down in the United States,” Banks said. “Hockey is the No. 1 sport, but we do have good fan support. It’s still football and it’s fun.”
An atmosphere Banks has warm recollections of is the one in Iowa City when he was a Hawkeye student-athlete.
“Family and genuine love,” Banks said of his days at Iowa. “Being a Hawkeye has impacted my life a lot of ways I can go on and on about. It’s been a blessing. Coach Ferentz is a great man. He’s a person you can sit around with for hours and learn so many things outside of football — things that will help you mature as a person. If you want to win some games and if you want to be a great football player, coach Ferentz is the guy to get you ready for it.”
Banks led the Hawkeyes to victory on nine consecutive Saturdays in the fall of 2002. That was also the last time an Iowa football squad won 11 games in a season.
“Brad was committed to the team and he had great work habits,” Ferentz said. “He played well on the field and everybody reacted to his leadership.”