Exonerated Brian Banks gets second chance with Seahawks tryout
Brian Banks spent five years in prison for kidnapping and rape, but the alleged victim later recanted and Banks was exonerated in California Superior Court last week.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — The Seahawks have shown a willingness to give players a second chance.
For Brian Banks, though, his tryout next week will be more like a first opportunity after he was exonerated in California last week on charges of kidnapping and rape.
A decade ago, Banks was a high-profile football recruit at Long Beach Polytechnic in California, one of the nation's top prep football programs.
He had been offered a scholarship to USC under coach Pete Carroll.
In 2002, Banks was accused of kidnapping and raping a fellow student at the school.
Banks was charged and faced up to 41 years in prison if convicted when he accepted a deal, pleading no contest.
He served five years in prison, and spent the past five years on parole before the purported victim in the case recanted her allegations and admitted the story was fabricated.
Banks was exonerated in California Superior Court last week.
Banks, 26, has tryouts lined up with six teams, the first of which will be Carroll's Seahawks.
"This is what I have dreamed about my entire life," Banks said in a statement released by California Western School of Law. "I am ready to show the NFL what I am capable of doing. I want as many opportunities with as many NFL teams who are willing to give me a shot."
Washington, Kansas City and Miami are among the other teams that will evaluate Banks, according to ESPN.com.
The tryout is only the first step toward getting on an NFL roster.
Teams can have up to 90 players under contract, a total that will be trimmed to 53 eight days before the regular season begins.
Banks played linebacker at Long Beach Poly, and at 6 feet 4, he was a junior when the team won the California's Southern Section Division I championship in 2001.
He was arrested and charged in the summer of 2002 after a classmate alleged he dragged her under a stairway and raped her.
Banks was helped in his case by the California Innocence Project, which is a clinical program of the California Western School of Law in San Diego.
He was exonerated last week, becoming the ninth of the project's clients to be exonerated since it began in 1999.
"When we took on Brian's case we wanted to give him his life back," said Justin Brooks, who represented Banks. "Part of that life was football. Seeing Brian in the NFL would be a perfect ending to a remarkable story."
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dannyoneil.