With the Augusta Christian Lions having a day off from practice, it is not surprising to find running back Thomas Banks in the weight room.
Last seen on the football field, Banks was breaking off a 98-yard, game-winning touchdown run against Hammond in the South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA championship game.
Since then, he’s rededicated himself to working out, especially with what’s expected of him in his senior season.
“In the offseason I looked at it with coach (Keith) Walton and he said you’re going to have to put the team on your back,” said the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Banks, who gained 30 pounds heading into spring practice.
“I was working in the weight room twice a day, then on the field trying to keep that speed and get faster,” Banks said. “I was eating like nine meals a day, taking in about 5,000 calories a day just trying to gain the weight to carry the load all year.”
The added weight hasn’t slowed Banks at all, but has made him faster.
“Surprisingly, my 40 (yard-dash time) dropped, I was pretty excited about that,” Banks said. “I was running about high 4.5s, then I gained that weight and right before spring I was like 4.48, 4.7, so that was pretty cool.”
After rushing for 600-plus yards his freshman season, Banks topped the 1,000-yard mark in his sophomore and junior campaigns and Walton sees another big year ahead.
“His sophomore year he split time,” Walton said. “His junior year, he didn’t split time, but technically we had two 1,000-yard rushers. Those potential carries that Tyler (Roberson) had will go to the backs now, so he’ll actually get more touches.”
Banks tried to set a good example and tone for the team from the outset.
“When I came out for practice that first day, I went all out every day and the attitude changed on the whole team to have that nastiness, that saltiness you need.”
Banks doesn’t think of the upcoming season as the Lions having a chance to repeat as champions but rather having an opportunity to win a title.
“Every year is fresh, everybody starts from the same spot, that’s how I look at it,” Banks said. “We’ve got Wilson Hall, they’re projected the No. 1 team in the state in the preseason. We’re all in the same spot, whoever rises up, makes plays, that’s who’s going to be the state champion.”
His final year of high school hopefully will not be his last year of football.
“It’s always been my dream to play Division I football,” said Banks. “I’ve been dreaming that since I was 9 years old. Especially with having cousins wanting the same thing, and seeing what they did to get there and seeing the work ethic you have to have, that helped out a lot.”
But before that, he plans on enjoying his senior season, especially being at a position he loves.
“You know when the play’s called you’re getting the ball,” said Banks about why he likes playing running back. “You have about five seconds before the play to get your mind right, saying what you’re about to do, how you’re going to do it, what you’re going to do to make a big play.”