Brandon Banks entered high school as a self-described “bad little kid getting into a lot of trouble.”
Then he met Nelson Smith.
Smith — Banks’ head football coach at Garner Magnet High School in North Carolina — inserted the discipline and structure his talented freshman needed to succeed, and it eventually parlayed into his unlikely NFL career with the Washington Redskins.
Smith, who entering this season had won 130 games and 10 conference championships in his 12 seasons as head coach at Garner, will be stepping down as head coach in December after accepting the athletic director job at the school.
Banks — the Redskins wide receiver and punt/kick returner — recently talked to Cary Magazine about the life lessons he learned from Smith.
“Coach Nelson definitely taught me a lot as in growing up and being a man, taking care of responsibilities, just learning things about being responsible and being on time to class and taking my work more seriously,” Banks said.
On the field, Smith wasn’t shy to take advantage of Banks’ elite athleticism.
“He definitely taught me a lot about the game because he gave me a lot of flexibility,” Banks said. “I played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, played both sides of the ball. So, he taught me a lot of skills, taught me a lot about the game.”
Banks said he’s happy that Smith will be remembered as a man who taught both life lessons and how to win.
“He had us go out there and put everything there on the line,” Banks said. “He taught us how to win. He was real strict about how he wanted to run things and how he wanted to do things and everybody bought into it.”
Smith’s final game as a football head coach will be Dec. 15, as he leads the North Carolina team against South Carolina in the 76th-annual Shrine Bowl Game of the Carolinas.
By the way, Garner is, as usual, off to a great start this season in their last campaign under Smith. The Trojans are currently 6-0 (2-0 in league play) and have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 253-82.
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