About a year ago a big hard hitting linebacker from Henry Sheldon High School in Eugene, Oregon was wrapping up a State Title run and thinking of his future. James Banks was an All State Linebacker and had generated some serious interest and offers too. But the 6'1"- 225 lb battering ram did not find the fit he was looking for. So like a lot of guys he headed off to a Junior College for a chance to develop, grow, and get his shot at a D-1 program.
For James he was an Academic Qualifier which means he had the option to go to Junior College for one terms or one year and come out to a 4 year college. In most cases kids going to Junior College are Division 1 level guys who did not have the grades and they must attend 2 years at a JC and get their Associates Degree to come out and up to a bigger school.
In the case of an athlete who does 2 years of JC Football and then comes out they have 3 years of eligibility to play 2 seasons; 2 season on the field and 1 Red Shirt season in the event it is needed.
In Banks case he enrolled at the New Mexico Military Institute which is a JC in Roswell, New Mexico. He hit the ground running this past Summer when he got there and never looked back having a great Freshmen Year and making a name for himself in the JC Ranks and earning scholarship offers he did not have coming out of High School. This was all part of the plan and should be a consideration for kids trying to get onto the football field on scholarship if they are not happy with their other choices as their High School career ends. But JC Ball is no frills and no glamour and it is for sure no joke!
"So I ended up going to a JC in New Mexico called New Mexico Military Institute on a full ride scholarship. It's definitely not the ideal location being in Roswell, NM as goes the case with most JC's being in remote locations. It's a grind that makes you constantly remember why you are here and the sacrifices you're making now," offered Banks. "It will make waking up at 6am daily and 15 hours a week of study hall worth it when I get to my 4-year."
James was honest in our discussion. There is no one at the games and you have to want to do this. Every guy on that field is all in and most of them are all All State D-1 Caliber guys and it is a battle for positions and reps and all of it. You have to want it do bad that you will push yourself and run over everyone to make it on to the next level.
"There are few pay offs other than receiving scholarships to 4-years. You're not playing in front of thousands of people and you're not glamorized like you once were in high school because you're now on a team with kids just as good as you with the same dreams. Playing JC football is extremely demanding and different from high school. You're constantly going up against guys with BCS offers; even in practice. You can't afford to not put all the time and effort possible into it."
He had a great season and started in every game. He was named Second Team All League and has gone on to earn scholarships too. He was named the Defensive MVP of the El Torro Bowl and his squad at NMMI went 8-4 on the season.
"Being a qualifier, I was planning on leaving at the semester, but I've re-evaluated my decision on that and am going to wait till the next term so I can participate in Spring ball and see what offers that brings as well. It also gives me a chance to get my AA which looks extremely good on a resume coming from NMMI as it is one of the top JC's in the country as well as being a military school."
He is happy to have options for college that have been presented to him. He is going to move on and play at a 4 year school on scholarship which was his dream from the day he realized this was the game for him. He reflected on staying for Spring Ball and the overall experience he has had so far.
"Before I decided to stay, I had offers from Wyoming (before the coaching change), Georgia St., North Dakota St., and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. I'm probably going to end up losing some of those due to me staying but it's a risk I'm willing to take. I'm extremely grateful for the coaches that I have the opportunity to play for and the friends I've made from across the country (and even Canada) down here."
We enjoyed watching James play in High School. A tough kid who will always remember as an 11 on the 1-10 scale of toughness and motivation. As with all ways to move on to college and play America's game we continue to bring you these stories as a way for you to absorb what options are out there. He is a 1 year JC guy. It can be done. When he signs he will have 4 years left in college; 3 to play and 1 to Red Shirt.
Also we have always said to you kids and parents that if you stay in touch we will continue to put you out there. Thanks James! We see you and are doing just that. Coaches you have a winner here. Have a closer look!
NMMI: 8-4 (3rd in WSFL) El Toro Bowl Champions
James Banks- Second Team All-WSFL Linebacker, El Toro Bowl Defensive MVP, Started all games
James Banks #36 New Mexico Military Institute High School Class of 2013 - Qualifier Linebacker SAT-1870 ACT-29 Cell: 541-285-4370 Head Coach: Coach Forchtner (575-624-8620)