Jeremy Banks case revisited – by him

Marvin Westwestwords

I didn’t start this, Jeremy. You did.

Former Tennessee linebacker Jeremy Banks says he should have been on the field for the ill-fated South Carolina football game last November.

Yes, THAT game, the one where the defense was so bad, the Gamecocks scored 63 points and knocked the Vols out of consideration for the national playoffs.

There has been no explanation. Mystery remains. The choice rumor said there was a Banks altercation, a suspension and fallout that distracted certain defensive teammates. The appearance was awful, as if some weren’t trying.

Banks’ absence was first passed off as “injured.”

That was make-believe.

Josh Heupel revised that explanation to “unavailable.”

That created, off to the side, a smaller game of hide-and-seek – the facts.

Many businesses based on others’ money strive for transparency. Tennessee athletics conducts a constant campaign for more millions but is very guarded about who says what.

Banks, a really good player, has a record. He got arrested and fired from the team a time or two during the Jeremy Pruitt era. Good reporters at WBIR-TV obtained police body-cam footage of one incident. Banks was shown making threats toward an officer. The punchline was “Where I’m from, we shoot at cops.”

No doubt that made Cordova very proud.

Whatever happened before the South Carolina game did not trigger colorful comments. Nobody, not even Banks, talked – until last week.

At the NFL scouting combine, a description of Banks mentioned controversial issues. That ignited a few leftover questions about 63 points: What did you do?

“It was just a competitive environment and everybody competing to get a spot,” Banks said. “We’re here now. There was no reason I should’ve been not playing to help my team get in the playoffs and compete for a national championship.”

The link between Banks and the loss to the Gamecocks may be with us a while. The Vols didn’t seem to know it was a really big game that would become a historic defeat. Jeremy not playing created a significant void that was magnified by the reaction of others.

There is no way to turn all the wrongs into a right but it would be OK with me if what all Banks did whenever he did it was not the forever definition of who he is. He apologized for some transgressions to gain reinstatement to Pruitt teams. He supposedly rode with police on patrol to better understand the pressures they face every day. Friends say Jeremy changed his lifestyle. Maybe adjusted is a more accurate word. One said he saw Jeremy in church not long ago, a Baptist church if you must know.

I believe he changed his football style somewhat.

I offer a thought that another wrote: “Banks hit people. He wasn’t very good on pass defense over the middle but he hit people. He made a lot of tackles too far down the field but he hit people. He made mistakes and got several 15-yard penalties but he hit people.”


Sometime after that, he got smarter.

“I love J.B. J.B. has a tremendous amount of passion and energy,” Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks (no relation) said. “He plays hard.”

I liked what linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary said. It made sense.

“He is such an aggressive player, which is what you want, but it has to be controlled aggression. He was still going to play 100 miles an hour…”

I hope Jeremy Banks gets a professional opportunity. I hope he does well. I hope he sends a tithe to the University of Tennessee to help balance the budget and say thanks for what it did for him. It allowed coaches to never give up.

If Jeremy had asked about public relations, I would have suggested he opt in instead of out of the Orange Bowl. He says he missed one game too many. I thought he needed to generate all possible goodwill.

Marvin West welcomes questions or comments from readers. His address is


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