Sept. 3, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — In many ways, the ascent of Brad Banks symbolizes opportunities ahead for the 2011 University of Iowa football team.
Banks, today’s honorary captain when the Hawkeyes host Tennessee Tech, played in every game as a junior, but didn’t start until the 2002 season-opener against Akron. The unknown and somewhat untested quarterback from Belle Glade, Fla., went on to compile 2,996 yards of total offense and throw for 26 touchdowns. After leading the nation in passing efficiency, he was named Associated Press Player of the Year, Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award winner and runner-up in the Heisman Trophy race.
“That stuff’s all great, but beyond that, Brad was a tremendous leader for our football team and an outstanding person,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Banks delivered a message to the team Friday after practice at the Kenyon Football Practice Facility.
“At the end of the year, what will the identity of the 2011 Hawkeye football team be?” Banks asked. “We had some great players in here last year and now those guys are gone. Now we have new guys filling in.”
Like Banks did in 2002. That season Iowa won 11 regular-season games, earned the Big Ten title with an 8-0 record, and played in the Orange Bowl.
“We’ve always had players here come in and they weren’t five stars and all that stuff, which really doesn’t mean anything,” Banks said. “But we had guys that worked. If you have work ethic and you have good study habits and practice habits, you’re going to be successful when you come here. That right there was my forte, so (coming to the UI) worked out.”
Banks knows what James Vandenberg, today’s Hawkeye starting quarterback, is feeling. For Banks, it wasn’t nerves, but anticipation, before he went out to lead Iowa to a 36-point win over Akron nine years ago.
“I was feeling more excited than just the butterflies,” Banks said. “I was confident and comfortable in how I prepared. Coach (Ken) O’Keefe had done a great job with me through camp and I had great teammates, so I didn’t really worry too much. I was more excited and more ready to go than anything.”
Iowa and the Golden Eagles kick off at 11:01 a.m. (CT). Calling it an honor and a blessing to be named honorary captain, Banks will accompany the Hawkeye captains to the center of the field for the pregame coin flip. He will also be in the UI locker room before and after the game and on the sidelines during the contest.
“This is an all new year and it’s not guaranteed,” Banks said. “You guys can go out and make it what it is and create your own destiny. Go out and have a good one.”