When Ladarius Banks' coach at Dallas (Ga.) East Paulding called him last week, he brought up the subject of scholarship offers.
"He said, 'How many offers do you have today?' " Banks said. "And I said, 'Zero.' He was like, 'Well, not anymore. Illinois just offered.' I was speechless. I was very humbled by that. I was very excited because it was my first offer."
Now, Banks , a 6-foot-2, 265-pound strongside defensive end, is hopeful that offer is only the beginning. A two-year starter at East Paulding who played junior varsity football in the ninth-grade at Miami (Fla.) Northwestern, he recorded nine sacks and 55 total tackles in 2010.
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"The main schools coming at me are Miami, N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and, of course, Illinois," Banks said.
Banks recently attended junior day at Georgia Tech. On Saturday, he checked out Wake Forest.
"Wake Forest is really recruiting me the hardest," Banks said. "Yesterday, I spent the whole day with [assistant coach Ray McCartney].We viewed the campus and went to a basketball game. It was really nice. I got to talk to him a lot, and I got to speak to a few of the players there."
Banks likes his chances of landing a Wake offer.
"They just got my highlight tape yesterday," Banks said. "I think they'll be offering either tomorrow or sometime during the week. [McCartney] said he'd give me a holler."
Regardless of who offers in the future, Banks said he will give Illinois a strong look.
"Them being the first team to offer me means a whole lot," he said. "I know they get players in the NFL, like Rashard Mendenhall. I really don't know much now, but I really want to hear more about the program and get to know the coaching staff."