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Banks not losing focus: The MSU senior is not worried about the hype

July 19, 2012

Johnthan Banks celebrating in a game last year. The senior has garnered a lot of hype this preseason, but he does not plan on that affecting his focus. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

The fact that Mississippi State defensive back and former East Webster player Johnthan Banks received additional All-Southeastern Conference recognition on Thursday at SEC Media Days was nothing new.

Banks had already been selected All-SEC by the league's coaches, Phil Steele, Athlon, Blue Ribbon College Football, Football Yearbook, Birmingham News, Lindys and USA Today.

He has also been chosen to the Bednarik Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy watch lists in the preseason.

In Hoover, Ala., it was released that the media that covers the conference has voted Banks to the All-SEC second-team defense and third-team special teams.

Banks appreciates the attention, but doesn't want the hype to be a cause of him losing focus.

"I'm just going to go out and be Johnthan Banks," he said Wednesday at SEC Media Days. "I'm going to do the things Johnthan Banks does and that's go out, keep getting better, keep improving and make my team the best Mississippi State can be."

Banks stands second in MSU history with 12 interceptions and only needs four more to tie Walt Harris for a school-record 16 thefts.

After intercepting four times as a freshman, Banks had three for the Bulldogs in 2010 and rebounded with five last season for head coach Dan Mullen.

"John has made big interceptions at key moments of the game and eliminates receivers during the game," Mullen said.

Banks also improved his tackle numbers each season with 33 as a freshman, 54 as a sophomore and 71 as a junior.

The ability to make tackles is increasingly something added to the responsibility of a defensive back.

"We've got to be ready to tackle like a linebacker," Banks said. "You've got to be physical and ready to tackle. You see most defensive backs have at least 50 tackles so you've got to play hard and fast at cornerback. If you don't, you'll get killed."

The other MSU players who gained All-SEC honors from the media were Gabe Jackson on second-team offense as an offensive lineman and Cameron Lawrence on third-team defense as a linebacker.

Lawrence, who had 123 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions as a junior for the Bulldogs, was picked preseason first-team All-SEC by SEC Football Information Directors, third-team All-SEC by Athlon and fourth-team All-SEC by Phil Steele.

"Cam Lawrence coming back as a linebacker, has experience," Mullen said.

Jackson, who also reached preseason All-SEC second team status with Phil Steele, Athlon and SEC's Football Information Directors, likes MSU's progress going into the season and wants to do his job to make sure that turns into success.

"You don't want to give up sacks and you still don't want to get beat and you want to open up lanes for the running backs," Jackson said. "I think we are headed in the right direction. Last year was kind of a setback and we have to bounce back, work even harder this season so we can win more games."

An all-time record of 222 votes were cast by the SEC media with LSU predicted to win the SEC Western Division and overall conference championship. Mississippi State was picked sixth in the West.

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was the leading vote getter with 201 of the 222 votes.

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