Georgia Southern University will be on the road at South Dakota State University on Sept. 12 for its second game of the 2009 football season, and a couple of Columbia County players will be making the nearly 1,700-mile trip with the Eagles.
Former Augusta Christian star Lee Banks is one of them. Banks had an incredible senior year for the Lions in 2005, throwing for more than 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing more than 70 percent of his passes.
Banks wasn't too shabby when he tucked the ball and ran, either. He racked up more than 1,000 yards and 15 more scores on the ground. Thanks to his heroics, Augusta Christian knocked off Porter Gaud 24-7 to claim the school's only state title in football.
After spending a year on the Western Carolina track team, Banks transferred to Georgia Southern and will be a reserve defensive back for the Eagles this fall.
Banks, now a junior, wears No. 35. In the annual spring game, he led the White Team with eight tackles and broke up a pass.
Banks will go down as one of the finest quarterbacks to ever bark a signal in Columbia County, and he just might surprise some folks in Statesboro, too.
Joining Banks in Statesboro is former Lakeside High defensive stopper Jermel Bennett.
Bennett is one of the hardest-working kids on the Georgia Southern roster and could eventually be a surprise talent for the Eagles.
Bennett was an All-County defensive player for the Panthers in 2007 and was named Lakeside's defensive MVP. He was redshirted by the Eagles last season and is trying to work his way up the team's depth chart. Bennett has incredible strength and a motor that does not stop. He tallied three tackles in the spring game, including one for a loss.
Georgia Southern also has a few players who hail from nearby communities. Lincoln County product Alex Bradford is a walk-on wide receiver, and Thomson standout Darius Eubanks signed in February and plays in the defensive secondary.
The Eagles' first game will be Sept. 5 as they play host to the University of Albany, a New York school.
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