For the dead-zone season, news is hard to come by. It's a little early to start breaking down key camp battles and OTA's are on hiatus for a bit. Sure, we could explore guys like O.J. Atogwe, but what fun is that? I solicited suggestions on twitter for story ideas, as I was drawing a blank and one of my followers, @scottone928, suggested a "Where are they now?" series on some former Jacksonville Jaguar players.
Since it was his idea, I decided to first feature his player suggestion, former runningback Tavian Banks. I remember Tavian Banks vividly, as I'm an Iowa fan and he's a former Hawkeye. Don't know much about Tavian? Click the jump, I'll tell you about him.
Back in 1998 the Jacksonville Jaguars draft consisted of not one, but two marquee running backs, although most people only remember one of them. That running back of course is potential hall of famer and former Jaguar Fred Taylor, who reached the 10,000 rushing yard milestone a few years ago.
The second running back selected is the oft forgotten Tavian Banks, who was drafted in the fourth round out of the University of Iowa. Tavian Banks was brought in to be a compliment to Taylor. Both possessed homerun- threat ability, speed, and elusiveness. Fred Taylor however was big enough to pound with the ball, and Banks was the guy who came in on passing downs, i.e. the proverbial "third down running back" often employed by teams. Tavian Banks was more of a finesse runner than Taylor, despite the fact that Taylor turned out to be a pseudo-finesse guy. Doesn’t this all sound familiar? Doesn’t this sound like Maurice Jones- Drew’s job when he was first drafted? It should. That is exactly what Maurice Jones-Drew’s job is, and that’s exactly what Tavian Banks was supposed to be for the Jaguars. While Banks’ numbers as a Jaguar are unimpressive and nothing close to Jones-Drew’s, anyone who remembers watching him play knows he certainly had the ability to be almost as good as Jones-Drew. Like Jones-Drew, Banks was a smaller running back who had speed and elusiveness, along with the ability to be a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. The only real clear-cut difference between the two is that Drew can run with power, whereas Banks could not.
It’s quite obvious what Tom Coughlin’s intentions were when he drafted Banks. Coming out of college, Tavian Banks was thought to be a mid-round pick because of his lack of size and perceived lack of toughness. In Banks’ senior campaign, he was fourth in the nation in rushing with 1,691 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. He was a second team All-American, first team All-Big 10, and the Big 10 player of the year. He also set an NCAA record by reaching 1,000 yards in a season quicker than any other running back. For his collegiate career, Banks ended with 2,977 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns. Banks holds six individual records at the University of Iowa in touchdowns in a season (19), career touchdowns (36), rushing yards in a game (314), rushing touchdowns in a game (4), and career rushing touchdowns (33). He held the record for most rushing yards in a season until Shonne Green, now of the New York Jets, broke it in the 2008 season.
Despite his great college career however, Banks suffered the same set backs in college he did in the NFL, injuries. In Banks rookie year, his season was cut short when he was involved in a car accident, and nearly rolled off of the Main Street Bridge with then teammate Cordell Taylor, when the two were rushing to a late meeting before the Jaguars 1998 playoff win against the New England Patriots. This car accident, along with a foot injury he suffered early in the season, allowed him to play just six games his rookie year. Banks’ second season with the Jaguars was not any better in the injury department. He suffered a hamstring injury that kept him timid and ineffective during the preseason. The coup de gras came in November against the Atlanta Falcons. Late in the 4th quarter with the Jaguars leading 30-7, Tavian Banks made his last play ever in the NFL catching a short pass from Jaguars back-up QB Jay Fiedler. Banks was hit late after he stepped out of bounds by Falcons defender Ray Buchannon. "That was sick," running back Fred Taylor said. "That ain't right. He was out of bounds. He wasn't trying to run. He was trying to catch his balance. I'm not saying he was trying to hurt him, but it wasn't right." Tavian Banks’ knee was shredded and his NFL football career was over.
Banks was exactly what then head coach Tom Coughlin envisioned when he drafted Banks to back up Fred Taylor. Just imagine a Maurice Jones- Drew like player with the Fred Taylor of 1998? Scary, isn’t it? Not many people remember Tavian Banks, as his career with the Jaguars and in the NFL was short, but every time I see Maurice Jones-Drew shake a defender and run 40-80 yards for a touchdown, I think to myself "that’s what Banks could have been." However, with Maurice Jones-Drew being what Tavian Banks was supposed to be, Jones-Drew is leaving his own legacy. Hopefully a long, injury free, and productive one.
In 2002 Tavian Banks worked out for the New Orleans Saints, but despite having a good workout, he decided to retire due to chronic knee problems. However, from 2003-2004, Banks decided to attempt a comeback again, and was on and off the New Orleans Saints roster being placed on the practice squad in 2003 and finally waived in 2004 at the end of the preseason. In 2006-2007, Tavian Banks was on the coaching staff of the University of Louisville Cardinalsas the assistant running backs coach, which is not surprising since former Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino was Banks’ offensive coordinator during his days as a Jaguar. Currently, Tavian Banks is the Head Trainer with Xtreme Speed in Illinois. Jaguars 2010 draft selection Deji Karim actually worked with Xtreme Speed before the NFL draft. Funny, since Deji Karim has drawn a lot of comparisons to Maurice Jones-Drew... and looks very similar to Tavian Banks.
For those who never got to see him play, here's a highlight video of him.
Tavian Banks - Iowa Hawkeyes/NFL Highlights (via xtremespeed100)