A former high school football star who spent five years in prison for a rape he didn't commit has been in contact with the Chargers and has scheduled tryouts for three other NFL teams, California Western School of Law announced Wednesday.
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Brian Banks, 26, was cleared of the rape charge in a Long Beach courtroom last week after receiving legal assistance from the law school's California Innocence Project. He visited the campus Friday to thank students for their help.
Banks was a middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School with a scholarship offer from USC when he was accused of rape by a girl who attended the school. Banks told the law students that he had 10 minutes to accept a plea deal that allowed him to avoid a prison sentence of at least 41 years, and wasn't allowed to ask his parents for advice.
Once out of prison, Banks wore an ankle bracelet and had to register as a sex offender.
The woman tried to "friend" him on Facebook last year, and he got her to recant her accusations against him, leading to last week's exoneration.
According to California Western School of Law, Banks has set up a June 7 tryout with the Seattle Seahawks -- whose coach, Pete Carroll, held a similar position at USC 10 years ago -- and also has workouts arranged with the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs.
"This is what I have dreamed about my entire life," Banks said. "I am ready to show the NFL what I am capable of doing. I want as many opportunities with as many NFL teams who are willing to give me a shot."
The school said Banks has been in contact with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.
His lawyer, Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project, said he took the case to give Banks his life back.
"Part of that life was football. Seeing Brian in the NFL would be a perfect ending to a remarkable story," Brooks said. "To go from a condemned guy, from a social pariah to the person today where everybody wants to talk to him, and NFL teams are interested in him, it's a dream come true."
Last week, Banks said he had been training six days a week since October in anticipation of taking his NFL shot. He has been working out at an undisclosed location in Southern California.
"For the past year, he's been intensively working out and with serious football guys, serious trainers," said Brooks. "He's been doing two-a-days at a gym down in Long Beach. His weightlifting numbers, his speed, his quickness, his ability to jump is right at the NFL level. In fact, some of his numbers are better than a lot of people playing in the NFL."
"For the California Innocence Project, we want to give people their lives back. Part of giving him his life back is football," Brooks added.
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