One week after being exonerated on a rape conviction that sent him to prison for five years, former California high school star Brian Banks is gearing up for workouts with as many as four NFL teams.
Banks, 26, told ESPN columnist Rick Reilly he is scheduled to work out for the Seattle Seahawks June 7, and has received similar interest from the Redskins, Chiefs and Dolphins.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who was at USC from 2001-09, recruited Banks out of Long Beach Polytechnic High School. The star linebacker had been offered a scholarship to play for the Trojans before a classmate accused him of rape in the summer of 2002.
Banks’ dreams of an NFL career were seemingly derailed when he took the advice of his former attorney and pleaded no contest to rape and kidnapping charges, rather than face the prospect of 41 years to life in prison if convicted at trial.
Banks recalled that the lawyer told him, "You can go into that courtroom in front of a jury. You’re a big black teenager, they’re going to automatically assume you as guilty."
After 62 months in prison, he was placed on probation, subject to electronic monitoring, and had to register as a sex offender.
Banks, however, was vindicated last week after presenting prosecutors with a video of his former accuser admitting he never raped her.
In a shocking twist, Wanetta Gibson contacted Banks last year on Facebook, telling him she felt guilty about making up the rape allegations.
She asked if they could "let bygones be bygones" in an apparent bid to rekindle their relationship.
Banks is now seeking to recover $100 from the state for each day he was wrongfully imprisoned, and says he has been training rigorously since last fall for a chance to impress an NFL team.
"I’ll make ’em happy," Banks told ESPN. "After all I’ve been through these last 10 years, I can still do some things that will impress you."
The 6ft 2in, 245-pounder boasts he can dead-lift 545 pounds and run a 4.6-second 40-yard dash. Gavin Macmillan, who trains NFL players and volunteered to work with Banks for free, believes there is a chance Banks can make an NFL squad, saying "you can see why USC wanted him."