Quintin Banks signed with Georgia in 2006 hoping to succeed Greg Blue as the program's hardest hitting safety.
Last season, however, he was more reminiscent of Antavious Coates.
Banks tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during preseason workouts last August and wasn't cleared to play until Oct. 11, when the Bulldogs defeated Tennessee 26-14 at Sanford Stadium. He was preparing for visiting Vanderbilt the following week when he tore his posterior cruciate ligament in the same knee and was lost for the year.
Any comparisons to Blue were being replaced by those to Coates, a safety who signed with the Bulldogs in 2005 but had to give up football in August 2007 after a fourth anterior cruciate ligament tear.
"It was frustrating, because you want to be out there with your guys and trying to help the team win," said Banks, a 6-foot-2, 213-pound junior from Warner Robins. "I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason, so I just try and look at it from that perspective."
Banks wore a noncontact jersey all spring but was cleared for camp and entered last week backing up Reshad Jones at strong safety. He has taken some first-team reps, as Jones has had a tweaked hamstring, but Banks isn't overdoing things. Coaches are making sure of that.
"We're not going to sit there and blow him up," defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "We're going to monitor his reps and slowly kind of phase him in."
Said Banks: "My knee is not that bad, but it's not as good as I want it to be. I think I'll be 100 percent for Oklahoma State. I'm not worried about that at all."
Jones and senior Bryan Evans will be the starting safeties for the Sept. 5 opener, provided they're healthy, with Banks and redshirt freshmen Bacarri Rambo and Makiri Pugh coming off the bench.
Banks played in 12 games during the '07 season and amassed eight tackles, including 1.5 for loss in a 45-17 win over Ole Miss. He signed with Georgia out of Houston County High School and was rated by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 11 safety.
"I remember in high school watching Thomas Davis and Greg Blue," Banks said. "Sean Jones was a great safety also, but Greg Blue was a really hard hitter and brought a different attitude to the game. Offensive coordinators would see him and start fidgeting, so he was definitely somebody I looked up to when I came here."
Dogs put on pads
Georgia went through its sixth and seventh practices Monday, including a two-hour morning session in full pads.
"I think it went really well," junior linebacker Darryl Gamble said. "We didn't have any injuries, and a lot of guys got after it. The defense won most of the drills, so I guess you could say we had the upper hand."
Senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens went through his first full-pads workout since his knee injury last August, and freshman tailback Washaun Ealey (elbow) wore a noncontact jersey but practiced in the afternoon. Defensive ends Justin Houston (shoulder) and Demarcus Dobbs (foot) are nursing minor injuries.
The first scrimmage will be Wednesday.