A Southern California man exonerated last week on a decade-old rape conviction was looking ahead Thursday to try to relaunch a dream taken from him because of prison time he served in the case, the chance to play in the National Football League.
Brian Banks was a football standout at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and had been offered a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California when he was accused of rape.
Fearing a potentially long sentence, he followed the advice of his attorney and pleaded no contest to assaulting a classmate.
But he maintained his innocence throughout nearly six years of imprisonment, subsequent probation and registration as a sex offender.
And, according to the California Innocence Project, the woman later admitted that Banks had not kidnapped or raped her during a consensual encounter.
It didn't take long for NFL teams to start contacting Banks with tryout invitations, according to news reports, with six in line to work him out.
First among them was the Seattle Seahawks, coached by Pete Carroll, the same man who offered that scholarship to Banks a decade ago, according to a report in the Seattle Times.
"I feel very confident in getting that tryout and producing on the field," Banks said. "I've been working extremely hard for this opportunity."
Banks was a linebacker in high school, and his team won a state championship when he was a junior, according to the Seattle Times report.
A Super Bowl championship is obviously a long way away, but the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Banks told ESPN's Rick Reilly he has been working out since October and is confident he's ready to take the first step in the NFL.
"I'll make 'em happy," ESPN quotes him as saying. "After all I've been through these last 10 years, I can still do some things that will impress you."