Unless you didn’t get on Twitter, watch TV, check Facebook or get on the internet in any capacity over the weekend, you know Johnthan Banks was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the NFL Draft Friday night.
The Thorpe Award winner and now-former Mississippi State cornerback joins an organization he’s liked for years and who showed a fair amount of interest in him leading up to the draft.
Question: Did you have much of an indication Tampa Bay might draft you?
Answer: I really knew they had a good bit of interest in me. One of their scouts, me and him became really good friends. We always talk. He texts me or I text him just about every day. Down at the Combine, I just had it click with the corners coach. We just clicked. At the Combine he was giving me little hints, how to get set, lean forward, stuff like that. I feel like I’m at home. It’s an honor and a blessing from God to get to be around people who really want you.
Q: What have they said they like about you that made them want to draft you?
A: They know I can play. I can do pretty much anything. They know I’m a mature guy. They know I’m a hard-working guy. They know I can be a leader on and off the field and I think they know they can trust me. It’s the little things that matter, I think that’s what they like about me.
Q: Both head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik like drafting guys who were captains of their team in college and didn’t have much trouble off the field. You were, obviously, a captain, and when other people might be out partying, you were at home riding horses.
A: That’s just being raised by my grandparents here in Mississippi. If I got out of line, I got a whoopin’, a good whoopin’. Everything happens for a reason and I’m glad I was in the situation I’m in to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. I couldn’t be more excited. I wanted to go there from the jump. I want to go live in Florida for the next 10-15 years.
Q: What is it that made you like Tampa Bay? You mentioned as far back as last fall they’re a team you’d like to be drafted by.
A: It’s just everything. For one, it’s Tampa, Florida. I think it’s a great organization. Coach Schiano, he’s done a great job there. They won the division championship back in ’07. The program is on the rise. I really wanted to be there, then they got Darrelle Revis, got Dashon Goldson. Everything was a wild moment when I got that phone call. It was very exciting.
Q: Since you’ve been drafted, have you heard from any of your new teammates?
A: Yeah, I talked to Revis the same night I was drafted. He just said, ‘Welcome to the family. Let’s go, let’s get ready to work.’ Then Eric Wright hit me up on Twitter, Mark Barron, all those guys. I’ve established a great relationship with those guys and I’m gonna have fun.
Q: The Bucs had the lowest-ranked secondary last year, but with the additions of yourself, Revis and Goldson to go along with Barron and Wright, it becomes a pretty loaded group. Is that a fun thing to be a part of?
A: It’s very exciting. Tampa was the last-ranked pass defense in the NFL. But getting to know our secondary, we’ve got the best corner in the NFL, some of the best safeties in the NFL, it’s crazy. It really hasn’t hit me yet that I’m living a lifetime dream and I’m honored to be in the situation I’m in, because there’s some kids that would love to be in my position. It’s a blessing from God and I’m just happy.
Q: Several of your MSU teammates are headed to the NFL, as well, as Darius Slay and Josh Boyd were also drafted, along with several others signing undrafted free agent deals. Have you caught up with any of them yet?
A: Oh, those are my brothers. I’ve talked to every one of them. All of them, I talked to them, told them I’m so happy for them. It’s something we all set out to do as kids. For something like this to happen, this big, it’s life-changing. It’s something you grow up watching. Some of the guys we’re getting to play with, we grew up watching. It’s crazy, it’s a blessing. That’s all I can say.
Q: What all do you know about your new division, the NFC South? It’s a pretty stacked group.
A: It’s a tough division. You have Julio Jones, Roddy White, Matt Ryan, shoot, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, all those guys. It’s gonna be tough, but that’s the thing about it. I’ve been in the SEC for four years. Every week was tough. Nothing is gonna be easy in the NFL, no matter who you play. I’m just gonna try to learn from all the older guys, all the vets, and try and help my team win a championship.
Q: I know there are a lot of Saints fans in Mississippi. What will you say to the MSU people when Tampa Bay and New Orleans play if they’re Saints fans?
A: My MSU family, I know they’re gonna be behind John Banks 100 percent. They may be Saints fans, but I think they’ll all convert. They’re all loyal. It was a blessing to play in front of all of them for four years and I really appreciate the support they’ve shown me throughout my four years and even now.
Q: What’s your schedule going forward?
A: I’m gonna get a couple more workouts in this week then I’ll head to Tampa on Thursday for the rookie minicamp. I’m excited about it. I haven’t played football in forever. I’m excited. I’m ready to go down there Thursday to Sunday, enjoy my time, come back home and enjoy time with my family. After that, I’ll be ready to go full-swing.