Things didn’t go exactly as Vanderbilt had planned on Saturday during a 31-17 loss to Florida. But Sunday a surprise commitment made the loss much easier to swallow. Three-star safety Jalen Banks gave coach James Franklin the good news on Sunday and he spoke with 247Sports on Monday night about his decision.
Jalen Banks has helped lead his team to a 7-1 record this fall.
“I just felt comfortable there,” Banks said of his commitment. “They treated me and my family like family. I get to compete in the SEC and compete with the best week in and week out and get a good education. It’s a chance to write history.”
The visit to Vanderbilt was Banks’ second official visit of the fall, following an earlier trip to Wisconsin to see the Badgers play UTEP. Though it wasn’t his first time on the Vanderbilt campus, he was once again impressed with what he saw.
“I had been on the campus tour before but the campus was beautiful,” he said “Their fan base is pretty big and they had a lot of people there. It gets pretty loud there too. That game was about as loud as Wisconsin when they played UTEP. The crowd was definitely supporting the team and they kept fighting back.”
Banks chose the Commodores over offers from around the country including Wisconsin, Oregon, Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern. An Illinois native out of Thornton Township High School, many locals wondered why he chose the Commodores over his in-state program of Northwestern, another high academic school. Banks said the decision was simple.
“People ask me why not Northwestern,” he said. “They’re similar to Vandy but the SEC is the SEC. This is the best of both worlds. If I want to go to the NFL, NFL scouts will see me and make a legit evaluation. After an NFL career, if I do have one, I can have a career and take care of my parents and family.”
The appeal of the SEC and academics were a big part of Banks’ decision but the opportunity to build something also played a big role.
“To be able to change the program and write history, that’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” he said. “I can start something. My commitment can lead to other commitments and next year we can have another top ten or top twenty class and my senior year we can be competing for SEC championships and national championships.”
Asked what Vanderbilt fans can expect to see out of Banks when he suits up in the Black and Gold, the 6-0, 190-pounder had the following to say.
“They’ll see a lot of intensity, hard hitting and leadership.”
With Banks’ commitment, Vanderbilt has 21 total commits in the class of 2013 and currently 247Sports ranks Vanderbilt as the No. 20 recruiting class in the nation.