At one point, Jalen Banks (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) had a favorite. Now, he stays awake every night contemplating his future.
“I don’t have a favorite. I think about it every night, what schools have to offer,” Banks said. “It’ll be a tough decision.”
Wisconsin used to lead for the nation’s 75th-best athlete and Illinois’ 18th-best prospect overall, but that has changed in the last few months. The Badgers, however, are still squarely in the picture for Banks, and he recently made a visit to Wisconsin.
This visit was more of the same from his last few visits, though.
“It was pretty nice. It wasn’t much different,” the cornerback/safety said. “They told me how they felt about me. They had a camp going on. I just thought I’d go see [defensive backs] Coach [Chris] Ash and Coach [Bret] Bielema.”
Over the last month, the three-star prospect made two trips to programs he never visited before: Oregon and Vanderbilt. The Ducks hosted Banks for nearly an entire week.
“The campus is real beautiful. It’s smaller but it was real nice out there. I didn’t think it’d be that nice,” he said. “They got an excellent academic facility, and they pay a lot of academic attention as well.”
Banks said the Ducks’ staff was very up front and honest with him, which took him aback at first considering many schools are telling him everything he wants to hear in order to make him commit. In the end, though, Banks appreciated the candor of the Oregon coaches.
“I’m still excited about Oregon, but the only thing that scares me about them is they didn’t sugarcoat anything,” Banks said. “You go to a lot of places and they say how great they are and certain things, but they’ll never say how hard it’s going to be. I got to talk to the football academic guy. He told me it wasn’t going to be easy. It scared me because no one told me that. They were straightforward, and I’m happy about that.”
One thing that does not worry Banks is the distance. He said he received a family feel while at Oregon, and several Ducks fans have reached out to the 5-foot-11, 190-pound athlete on Twitter and Facebook since the visit.
Heading into his visit, Banks was very anxious to get to Oregon following the offer. He didn’t feel the same way about Vanderbilt but was very surprised at how much he enjoyed his visit.
“I was debating whether to go or not, but I had a great time,” he said. “They showed me a lot of love. Coach [James] Franklin has a positive outlook on the team and has a good recruiting class. They had a big turnaround last year. The academics are excellent. I didn’t know I was going to like it that much.”
Banks hopes to make one more visit before the season starts. Northwestern was his first offer, and he wants to reward coach Pat Fitzgerald with one more visit.
With practice beginning soon, Banks plans to take his recruitment until at least midseason and will make several official visits.
With more than a dozen offers, Banks said he isn't cutting any teams out. Programs such as Illinois, Iowa and Northwestern are also in the running.