Ticats’ Brandon Banks and Kent Austin agree: Speedy more mature

Brandon “Speedy” Banks isn’t returning to Hamilton simply because the Tiger-Cats re-signed quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, but that sure didn’t hurt.

“Yeah we talked about it,” Banks confirmed yesterday at Tim Hortons Field after the Tiger-Cats announced what 3DownNation had announced two days earlier: the free agent has re-signed, inking a one-year deal for 2018.

 “He asked my input and I asked what he was going to do. It wouldn’t have been my ultimate decision because of him, but it made it an easier decision.”

The return of head coach June Jones also made it an easier decision.

“Those two guys pretty well elevated my career last year,” said Banks, who has 33 touchdowns, scored five different ways (rushing, receiving, plus kickoff, punt and missed field goal returns), in 71 career games.

Banks, one of the most productive (11 touchdowns) and exciting returners in Ticat, and CFL, history became an every-down receiver after Jones took over coaching the team, as Masoli used him not only to stretch the field, but to sustain drives. His fleet presence, and that of the emerging Jalen Saunders, gave opposing defences the willies and created open spaces on the field for other receivers.

Banks, who had taken a significant pay cut (reportedly$50,000) to return to the Ticats last season, had 1011 receiving yards in 2017, all but 59 of those from Labour Day on. In the second half of the season he led the league lead in targets, receptions and touchdown receptions and was second in receiving yards as the Tiger-Cats had three 1000-yard receivers for the first time in franchise history.

“I wanted to be here,” he said of entering his sixth season in Ticat livery. “At the end of the day, home is home. It’s all I know in the CFL. I love Hamilton and the situation was right. The Ticats gave me an opportunity I like, so I took advantage of it.

“I don’t want to change anything. I want to be here with ‘Soli and the other guys that I’ve known here since Day 1.”

But Banks has changed something, and referred to it yesterday. He’s more mature as a receiver— getting all those game and practice reps made him sharper, and his routes more crisp and dependable—and says he’s also far more mature as a person.

Like Masoli, there was a time, that it didn’t seem likely Banks would see six years as a Tiger-Cat, let alone become one of the potential 2018 free agents the Ticats most urgently wanted to sign.

There has been no question about Banks’ competitiveness and singular return skills–he was the league’s 2015 special teams player of the year–but in 2016 he was late reporting to training camp because of family issues. Later that season he was suspended by the CFL for two games after testing positive for MDA, known street-wise as ‘Sally’.

“I’ve matured as a person,” Banks said Friday, not backing away from the subject. “Everyone learns by their mistakes. I’m not a perfect individual. I’ve been through a lot and I’ve learned by my mistakes.”

That was a notion heartily seconded by Kent Austin, Banks’ head coach his first four-and-a-half seasons here, and as vice-president of football ops the man ultimately responsible for re-signing him.

“One-hundred per cent,” Austin said of Banks maturing as a player, but moreover as a person. “I’ve walked with Brandon through most of that. All of us here see what a lot of other people don’t see, which is his heart.

“It’s easy for people to sling arrows when they don’t know the person: when you don’t see where he’s come from, what he’s overcome…and where he’s headed. We’ve always seen that in him.”

Banks is 30, and has absorbed significant pounding as a returner, but Austin said that while the organization took that into account, he feels Banks’ fast-twitch body type doesn’t degrade as quickly as some other’s, and that “he’s still performing at a very high level.”

Banks will join Masoli, Saunders and several other CFLers in the San Francisco Bay Area for off-season pitch-and-catch workouts.

“I’m just waiting for the call to come, and I’ll go right out there,” he said.”

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
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Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (209 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

20 Comments on Ticats’ Brandon Banks and Kent Austin agree: Speedy more mature

  1. Sounds like Speedy and Austin on good terms. Everything looking up right now!

  2. Its true small fast guys like Banks and the Als Stefan Logan don’t get as many injuries as bigger more muscular guys

  3. Hope Banks renegotiated some of the pay cut back from last year. Great to see him staying in black and gold. Predict he’ll have an epic year with Masoli tossing the pigskin to him.

  4. Steve. How is this possible? All those posters who claimed intimate inside knowledge… players won’t come back if Austin stays?!? Drew famously quotes almost half a dozen players …. Just a bunch of stir the pot BS.

    • Maybe KA WON’T be coming back. We don’t really know until the season starts. If he does end up taking the high road it would not come as a total shock. The man looks like he’s aged a century since coming here.

      • Philski. You are right we don’t know if Austin is staying. And yet the key players are still signing with the Cats. Gotta conclude that that 3Down stories quoting anonymous players were all nonsense.

        • Or the players were more concerned about having Austin out of the HC position and Jones in.

          I can recall posters questioning why the players would care if Austin was back at the VP level but was out of the HC level.

          • Nrm. Yeah that would make sense but that’s not how Drew’s article read. I like this site and mostly like drew’s contributions that particular article was just playing to the mob.

        • Or my favourite: “Taken out of context”…LOL! You have a point though.

  5. jones building his dream team.. speed, mobility, big arm, takeaways on defence

  6. Matt Harvey // January 6, 2018 at 8:57 am //

    Wow, I remember sitting in the stands when the Ticats were 0-6, Banks dropped a sure handed catch for a touchdown and we all thought, that’s it. He’s done, can’t return, can’t catch…….who’d have seen what was about to happen that last half of the season? I’m a believer again.

    • While disappointed Banks dropped the pass … I for one, didn’t think Banks was done as a receiver.

      Some still say Banks is done in all roles.

    • NEVER stopped! I knew there was no way we were a 60 to 1 team! I truly expected to be going back to the Grey Cup, but it wasn’t made, I mean meant, to be! No reference to officiating there in the Argo game, etc., of course!

      • It was interesting to see how many “talent level too low” comments while seeing potential used badly.

        Somehow, despite the small number of changes for players already on the roster resulting is blowouts as well as constant losses disappearing, some are still commenting that talent level was the issue.

      • Agree Jeff. That Stump game was an aberration. Here’s hoping TC’s can return the favour playing the opener June 16th in Stumpland.

  7. Awesome to have Speedy back! We will have an amazing group of receivers if Tolliver is healthy this year. And Chambers was a huge upgrade at National receiver spot at the end of the year. And a couple of lanky guys that cover a lot of area are a great compliment to Speedy’s game!

  8. Alex Droho // January 6, 2018 at 1:53 pm //

    Agree with Cat City; Chambers was a great addition. A full season of this guy will help the Cats. Also, re-signing of Tasker will be important. Hopefully they will pick up another national in the CFL draft to augment the receivers.

  9. All this praise for speedy, must make Tasker, feel like a non-exsistance, typical ticats fans,it takes a team to play as a team, not one but all, good luck Tasker your time has arrived.

    • Comments on an article about Banks re-signing that praise Banks and call for Tasker to be re-signed would upset Tasker?

      Only way I see Tasker upset is if he thinks he will be ignored in Jones’ offense and sees a better opportunity elsewhere.

  10. I’m sure the praise will be heaped on Tasker when (if?) he re-signs. Right now the focus is on Banks who HAS chosen to remain with the team. IMO Tasker too is a key component of this offense as a clutch 2nd down receiver (at least I hope JJ sees it that way) and a we’ll see a deal with Luke announced very soon.

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