Player of the Week Auston Banks powers rejuvinated Irish

Player of the Week Auston Banks powers rejuvinated Irish

September 16th, 2013 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

Notre Dame's Auston Banks (6) rushes for a 12-yard gain against Boyd-Buchanan at David L. Boyd Field in this file photo.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

13 for '13 Week 4

(Listed alphabetically)

Auston Banks, Notre Dame: 28 carries, 296 yards, 2 TDs.

Andrew Busby, McCallie: 12 carries, 161 yards, TD.

Diamez Franklin, Signal Mountain: 6 carries, 157 yards, 3 TDs.

Zac Freeman, Dade County: 11 carries, 124 yards, 3 TDs.

Zach Miller, Polk County: 34 carries, 188 yards, 3 TDs.

Jajuan Lankford, South Pittsburg: 166 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 34-yard receiving TD.

Hunter Moore, East Hamilton: 351 passing yards, 5 passing TDs, rushing TD.

Ryan Parker, Baylor: 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks.

Desmond Pittman, Ooltewah: 173 rushing yards, 2 TDs.

Dakota Rider, Meigs County: 12 carries, 148 yards, 5 TDs.

Will Slack, Grace Academy: 177 rushing yards; 65-yard kickoff return; 65-yard interception return; 4 TDs total.

Cudjoe Young, Howard: 94 rushing yards, 1 TD; 9 solo tackles, 2 assists.

Blake Zeman, Marion County: 229 rushing yards, 3 TDs.

Auston Banks was as close to unstoppable as a running back can get.

The Notre Dame junior had 28 carries Thursday against Boyd-Buchanan and, according to film review from Irish coaches, broke 28 tackles on his way to a 296-yard, two-touchdown night.

His efforts, which included 183 yards after contact in the 26-0 victory, earned him Times Free Press Player of the Week honors.

The 5-foot-9, 175-pound junior worked to become a more complete football player after being considered by most as a track guy playing football. He now is gaining notoriety as a football guy that runs track.

"He was definitely a speed guy last year," Notre Dame coach Charles Fant said. "He did not have the instincts or the hands to be a receiver, but he started last year as our starting running back after Shaqualm McCoy left."

Banks returned both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in Notre Dame's first game a year ago but a high ankle sprain then limited his effectiveness the rest of the year.

Life has changed. The sprinter (10.58 100-meter best time) has worked on following his blocks and making cuts at full speed.

"He and (fellow running back) Ricky Ballard have stayed after practice just about every day trying to improve," Fant said.

The rushing performance is the best single-game showing in the Chattanooga area this year, and Fant said last week that Banks was due for a breakout game.

Coaches at both Tennessee and Ohio State must have felt the same. Banks was invited to UT for its game against Western Kentucky and saw a lopsided Vols victory. Notre Dame has an open date on Sept. 27 and Fant said he'll be taking Banks to Columbus, Ohio that weekend for Ohio State's game against Wisconsin. Both are unofficial visits.

"He is big enough for a college prospect," Fant said. "He caught the eyes of both UT and Ohio State running backs coaches and he talks with them frequently. These are the two schools that are looking at him and (wide receiver/defensive back) Kareem Orr."

In four games, Banks now has 556 yards and an average of 139 yards per game.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.