Johnthan Banks came to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of this year's draft after winning the Jim Thorpe Award in 2012 as the nation's best collegiate defensive back. Banks has some other notable hardware, gaudy career interception totals at Mississippi State and plenty of game tape that impressed NFL scouts, but the Thorpe Award alone should be enough to indicate he knows a thing or two about playing cornerback.
That's what he thought, too, until he met Darrelle Revis.
Banks and Revis have been teammates since the Bucs drafted the former and traded for the latter within a five-day stretch back in April. They very well may be the team's starting cornerback duo come September. And right now, Banks is every bit the apprentice under Revis' wing. Humble, focused and quiet, Banks may be underselling his own knowledge of the cornerback position, but he sincerely believes that Revis's knowledge is at another level.
"He's taught me everything already," said Banks. "This guy is a football freak. I didn't know how to play corner, I don't think. Everything…I've started all over. I'm just trying to be like him. Whatever he says is what goes. What he says is what all of us try to do. I'm going to continue to do what he tells me."
While Revis is still being eased into full football activity as he completes his return from a 2012 knee injury – he has been taking part in individual drills since the start of camp, but no team periods yet – Banks' comments indicate that he has been in full force behind the scene. Adding the acknowledged best cornerback in the game to the defense was a coup for the Buccaneers this spring, but it will be even better if Revis can make the team's young DBs better with his mentoring.
As for Banks, he is definitely not hurting for mentors, here in his first pro training camp. Fellow cornerback
"LJ, he's done everything," said Banks. "He talks to me at night, tells me how to approach practice, how to approach everything, how to be a professional. He has a goal sheet in the bathroom, and I read it every morning. He's one of the most positive guys I've ever been around, through high school, college and now here. I'm competing with this guy for a job and he's been there every step of the way. He's always on me – on me not in a bad way but a positive way, keeping my head on straight and letting me focus on football."
There is plenty of room for both Banks and Johnson to carve out significant roles in the Bucs' defense this year, and beyond, and both players have been impressive on the practice field so far in training camp. But even if only one of the two is starting – or even if neither is starting – on Sundays this fall, they will be fine as long as the secondary is strong.
"We've talked about it," said Banks of the competition for jobs. "He wants the same thing I do. We want to win championships. If we win a championship, everybody's happy. It really doesn't matter who's on the field – like he says, as long as the best guys are out there giving us the best chance to win, I'll be happy."