Josh Banks of Wake Forest

Josh Banks of Wake Forest
August 13
00:00 2015

In above photo: Josh Banks of Wake Forest has evolved as a formidable pass rush artist (Photos by Wake Forest University Athletics)

Football is not a sport that’s designed for defensive linemen to score touchdowns.

When it does happen, it’s like a golfer hitting a hole-in-one.

In both cases pulling off such a rare feat makes for lasting memories.

Josh Banks of Wake Forest knows all about it.

It was nearly a year ago when Banks intercepted a pass and ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown in an early-season road game against Utah State.

Aside from the touchdown, Banks contributed 7 tackles plus 1 sack and was voted ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

“We were in a blitz and the quarterback was under pressure, so he rolled to the right side,” said Banks, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive tackle who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. “He was hit while trying to get rid of the ball, so I ran in the direction of the throw and got my hands on it. I looked behind me and didn’t see anyone so I knew I had to take it to the house. At that moment, it felt surreal.”

Banks, a redshirt junior, has emerged as a central figure on the Deacons’ defensive front.

Last season, he had 36 tackles (including 7 for lost yardage), 4 sacks and 2 pass break-ups. Banks’ height causes quarterbacks to alter the trajectory of their throws on short-range and intermediate routes.

“The coaches place heavy emphasis on me getting my hands up when I’m going after the quarterback,” he said. “Using my length is something that I’ve developed as part of my repertoire.”

Banks didn’t start playing football until his final year of middle school.

By his junior year at Middle Creek High School in Apex, he was rated among the top defensive linemen in the Raleigh area.

Even so, he didn’t attract much attention from the major colleges in his home area – UNC, N.C. State and Duke. Four years later, the lack of recruiting interest from the state’s “Big 3” still irks him.

“The fact that I was overlooked by schools so close to home is still on my mind,” he admitted. “I grew up as a Carolina fan and have an uncle [Jimmy Hitchcock] who played defensive back for the Tar Heels. When I signed with Wake Forest, it was like me making a statement to myself. It gave me added incentive to excel. In every game I play, I want to show how wrong they were for not taking a deeper interest in me.”

Coming off last year’s 3-9 mark, Wake Forest isn’t expected to make much of a splash this fall. In pre-season voting, the Deacons were picked to finish last in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

Banks, however, believes this year’s team will perform much better than predicted.

“We’ve put in so much work during the spring and the off-season,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we benefit from everything we’ve done up to now. We’re a team, we’re a family. I’m looking forward to see how it all comes together for us.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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