Looking back to February, there was one player who really wanted to go to Indianapolis, at the 2010 NFL Combine, and accomplish the feat of being the fastest player going into the NFL Draft. That player was Kansas State receiver and returner Brandon Banks.
I had the honor of interviewing Banks just days before the combine began. He was pumped to have the chance of running with and against some of the top NFL-ready talent, and looking for an NFL team who wanted to draft their talents.
Banks was one of the few who has to solely rely on his speed to raise the eyebrows of both coaches and NFL executives in attendance.
Unfortunately, he did not run as well as he had hoped and that, along with his small stature, hurt his draft stock, leaving him undrafted and unsigned.
That was until the Washington Redskins offered him a free agent contract to come practice with the team and the 5'7" and 150 pounds Banks signed on the dotted line.
The pairing is a blessing because the Redskins really needed a true special teams returner who could return both kicks and punts and Banks has plenty of experience at both during his time at Kansas State.
In the Redskins first preseason game versus the Buffalo Bills, Banks made a statement in the return game by returning four punts for 97 yards and one touchdown for an average of 24.3 yards per return.
Banks is surrounded by giants in the NFL, but he is not the first undersized returner who has a ton of speed, and he will not be the last.
Remember Dave Meggett?
He was only 5'7" and played in the NFL for 10 years primarily as a returner and took back a total of eight (seven punts and one kick) returns for touchdowns in his career.
Remember Gerald "Ice Cube" McNeil?
He was also only 5'7" and, even though he only played in the NFL for five season, he too was mostly a returner and returned one kick and one punt for touchdowns in his career.
Then there is Dante' Hall who was 5'8", played nine seasons, and had a total of 12 (six kicks and six punts) returned for touchdowns in his career.
The point is that Meggett, McNeil, and Hall have proven all the critics of their size wrong and played at a high level in the NFL as a special teamer.
Why can't Banks?
After playing in his first professional preseason game, Banks is well on his way to being the next exciting smaller returner to play in a league of giants.
He has also staked his claim to make the final roster as the teams' full-time returner once the regular season rolls in too.