Brian Banks talks about his emotions when he walked into the Seattle Seahawks locker room to find a jersey with his name on the bank. Raw Video
There were players at the Seattle Seahawks mini-camp Wednesday with one goal -- make a good impression as they went through drills in front of NFL coaches.
But for No. 43, there was so much more.
Just seeing a jersey with his name on it in the locker room was overwhelming for linebacker Brian Banks. He received the opportunity to join the mini-camp just a few days after he was cleared of a rape charge for which he served five years in prison.
"It was more overwhelming than I thought,'' Banks said. "I had high hopes and dreams of being out here today and just to finally be out here, to have this helmet on, to have this name on the back of this jersey, to be a part of this team for a day it's more than I could ever imagine."
Banks tweeted a picture of himself in the helmet and jersey with one word -- #Speechless.
Former USC coach and current Seattle head coach Pete Carroll invited Banks to the minicamp. He recruited Banks when he was a linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School.
Just as Banks appeared headed for a promising football career, his life was derailed when he was falsely accused of raping a classmate. The woman later recanted her story, exonerating Banks after the prison sentence.
His conviction was thrown out in late May.
Banks will return Thursday for Day 2 of the Seahawks mini-camp.
"Being out here on the field, going through warmups, going through plays, and then just watching the other players do what they've been doing for so long -- it's surreal," Banks said Wednesday.
Banks gave a verbal committment to play at USC when Carroll was the Trojans' coach. Carroll invited Banks to private workout last week with Seattle.
He also worked out with San Diego and Kansas City before flying back to Seattle.
Even the freedom of flying is something to cherish. He had not been on a flight for 15 years until his flight to Seattle last week.
"The flights have been probably what I've enjoyed a lot, but something to get used to, the change of time and time zones,'' said Banks. "But for the most part every time I get to the field I'm always refreshed and ready to go."
As for Wednesday's workout, Banks went through drills with other players and coaches -- his first time on a football field in a helmet since playing at Long Beach City College in 2007 after his release from prison. He began working out last October with one last shot at the NFL in his sights.
Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. -- he played at UCLA and coached at USC -- said Banks got his attention.
"Can he run, can he move, does he look the part? All of that is a plus,'' Norton said. "Does he make a good first impression? He made a great first impression. Really bright, really smart, well spoken. He has a great memory. He remembers everything you tell him and that's a great plus at this point."
After Thursday's mini-camp session, it's not clear what the Seahawks or the other teams that have invited Banks to work out will decide.
But the opportunity to show what he could do was enough for Banks.
"I think what I take from it all, the advice that I appreciate the most is just enjoy the moment. Enjoy the moment,'' Banks said. "If it's for one day, if it's for a whole season, if it's for however long, just enjoy the moment. I've already won. I have my freedom. That's what's most important to me. Making this team is just additional blessings to this freedom.''