Brandon Banks has a bloodline for speed to offset a body not meant for football.
The undrafted Washington Redskins rookie is no longer just a long shot to make the team, not after his 77-yard punt return for a touchdown against Buffalo on Friday. The 5-foot-7, 151-pound receiver out of Kansas State flashed his 4.24-second speed down the right sideline before performing hometown buddy John Wall's signature dance in the end zone.
Yet, Banks is barely the fastest person in his family.
It wasn't until middle school that he could outrun his mother, Sharonda Banks, who reached the U.S. Olympic time trials in the 200 meters in 1995. His half-sister Gabby Mayo was part of an NCAA record-setting 400-meter relay team and also set a Texas A&M record over 60 meters. Several uncles also ran track in college.
"I was a track guy, but I loved football more than track so I chose football," Banks said.
Banks' rise is reminiscent of Redskins predecessor James Thrash, an unknown rookie receiver whose two kickoff return touchdowns in 1997 fueled a 12-year pro career. Banks might seal a roster spot with another score versus the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.
"Look at my size -- I'm a short stature guy," he said. "I'm a good special teams guy. It's what I've always been in high school and college. I'm a playmaker. I call myself 'Electrifying.'"
Banks went undrafted despite ranking fifth nationally in kickoff return yards at Kansas State last season, including four touchdowns to tie for most in the country. Banks was the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year.
Coach Mike Shanahan has noticed Banks, whose best chance of making the team is a returner.
"That's what camp's about -- giving people an opportunity to make plays," Shanahan said. "I can't say that it surprised me at all with the way he has played, not necessarily as a returner but as a wide receiver. He consistently makes plays; he has great speed, cutting ability and an excellent set of hands."
Banks used his left hand to signal a tribute to Wall, now a Washington Wizards rookie who was in the FedEx Field stands as his boyhood pal's guest. The two often played basketball at the community center in Garner, N.C.
"John Wall is one of my best friends," Banks said. "I talk to him on a daily basis. I'm real cool with him."
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