- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
Wisconsin does not have many spots for its 2013 recruiting class, and cornerback Jalen Banks (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) could end up grabbing one of them.
Banks, who also has offers from Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Western Michigan, is favoring the Badgers after picking up an offer during their junior day Feb. 18.
“They showed sincere interest … and it’s a prestigious offer since they can only sign like 10 people,” Banks said. “The guys at Wisconsin have a vibe about them, a lot of great people. When I went up there I felt like home. I can see myself being there. I got little letters from almost every coach and appreciate hearing from them.”
The visit to Wisconsin a few weekends ago catapulted the Badgers to the top of Banks’ leaderboard. He wasn’t entirely high on Wisconsin before visiting.
“I didn’t think I’d like Madison, but when I got there it’s a nice mid-size city, campus was beautiful and the engineering hall was basically connected to the stadium,” he said. “Camp Randall was a beautiful place.”
Banks spent most of his time talking with assistant coach Chris Ash, but he was ushered into coach Bret Bielema’s office during the junior day. Bielema asked Banks a few questions before offering the 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior.
“He likes my downhill plays, always come up and hit,” Banks said. “He knows about me off the field, knows about my grades (ranked No. 3 in his high school class). He’s impressed with that. He asked what I’m looking for in a college. He liked what he heard. In the few minutes there he got the basis of the kind of person I am.”
The Michigan State coaching staff likes a lot of the same parts of Banks’ physical style of play, especially his ability to make tackles at the line of scrimmage. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio was not around for the junior day, but Banks spoke with secondary coach Harlon Barnett.
The Spartans expressed to Banks they look for three skills when evaluating a cornerback, and Banks was told he has all three.
“Change in direction, be able to make open field tackles and be a playmaker,” Banks said are the three skills. “They said they saw all that on my film. I read my keys well and made big tackles for losses.
“Hopefully when Coach Dantonio sees the film I’ll have an offer.”
Banks is hoping to make it back to Michigan State for a spring practice when it will be less crowded. Banks echoed the sentiments of a number of other recruits attending the Spartans’ junior day that it was tough to talk with the coaches because of the large number of prospects who attended.
The next visit for Banks comes Mar. 24 when he heads south to Vanderbilt.
“I want to look around and see how things are, hopefully talk to some of the players, ask about practice,” Banks said. “I’m looking forward to meeting all the coaches and the type of guys they have down there.”
Banks hopes to have a decision before the start of his senior season but will not set a hard timetable.
548dTom Luginbill and Craig Haubert