BY DANNY P. SMITH
HOOVER, Ala. – Johnthan Banks didn’t spent Southeastern Conference Media Days talking about himself.
The former East Webster High School player who has developed into an All-SEC defensive back at Mississippi State decided to promote his teammates more than himself at the Wynfrey Hotel on Wednesday.
Banks stressed the importance of giving his best effort to the Bulldogs in his senior season and leading the team on defense.
“This year, it hasn’t been about me, but about my teammates and getting my team ready to go win a championship,” Banks said. “It’s a blessing to be up high in national attention, but if my team is not where I want it to be, I’m not going to be satisfied.”
It was fitting that Banks and MSU junior quarterback Tyler Russell were both part of SEC Media Days because of the chemistry they have developed with each other.
Since Banks has played against and had success against Tim Tebow and some of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, he can offer advice to Russell.
“There are some things I’ve picked up that I can tell Tyler,” Banks said. “There are things where I know he is going to throw to a receiver on the side, see things he’s doing wrong and how he can change it.”
Banks knows a thing or two about playing quarterback as he had 1,740 yards of total offense and 17 touchdowns while playing the position for the East Webster Wolverines as a senior.
Russell accepts any knowledge Banks can give and welcomes it.
“He’s the best defensive back in the nation so to have a guy likes that helps me out a lot,” Russell said.
It goes both ways as Russell lets Banks know when he’s tipping off his blitzes and the way the rotation takes place in the secondary.
Banks said anything each player can do to help make the other better will benefit the team.
When it comes to taking over as the starting quarterback after the departure of Chris Relf, Banks expects Russell to be a more vocal leader and will be an important figure for where the Bulldogs want to go.
“Chris was a good football player, but Tyler will be a key to this football team to be successful,” Banks said. “I think he will handle the job.
“Tyler is more outspoken than Chris. Chris didn’t say much, but Tyler pushes us, the offense and commands them to do things. He’s got the job done so far. As a player, Chris was a more physical player, but Tyler is the better passer.”
Banks was asked who the toughest receiver he ever had to cover and once again his thoughts turned to a teammate.
“Arceto Clark,” Banks said in not hesitating to answer the question. “I go against him every day in practice. I have a lot of respect for Arceto. He’s a small guy, but I believe he can be the best receiver in the SEC if Tyler can get him the ball.”
While wearing a bright pink tie that was picked out by his girlfriend, Banks discussed MSU’s goals for the 2012 season.
Banks said the expectations were high last season for the Bulldogs and wanted a 10-win season. They were disappointed with a 7-5 record.
“A successful season will be a 10-win season and win the SEC Championship,” Banks said. “I want to go to out and get interceptions.
“Our goal is to go out every year and compete for the SEC Championship. The SEC is always strong. You’ve just got to go in, play hard and play physical. If you get to the SEC Championship out of the West, you can probably compete for a national championship and probably win it so if we can get to the SEC Championship, the national championship is the next stage.”