Linebacker Jamari Buddin recently became the fourth player from Michigan to commit to Penn State's 2021 recruiting class. The Lions have more commitments from Michigan players than those from Pennsylvania (three).
Who is the common denominator to this Michigan run? Assistant coach Tim Banks.
A Detroit native (he played at Martin Luther King High), Banks is filling a high-profile recruiting role for the Lions these days. He has helped recruit 4-star prospects Buddin and safety Jaylen Reed along with 3-star players Kalen King and Kobe King, who are twin brothers.
All four are candidates for the 2020 SI All-American Team and could become major players at Penn State. For example, SI's scouting report projected Buddin as a "multi-year impact starter, with pro potential depending on size development."
Through this recruiting cycle, Penn State is recruiting Michigan as well as anybody. The Lions' four committed players all are among the top 15 in 247Sports' state rankings. That's currently the most of any team; Michigan has two.
For Banks, this isn't new. In the 2020 class he recruited two top-20 players from Michigan (Enzo Jennings and Bryce Mostella), and the 2019 class featured 4-star linebacker Lance Dixon.
Further, it's also familiar territory for Banks. He has deep roots in Detroit, having played high school football there and having graduated from Central Michigan University about two hours away.
Banks recruited the area for several programs, including Central Michigan, as a college coach. And he has ties across the region, having coached at Bowling Green, Cincinnati and Illinois as well.
"Even though I have this boyish look, I’ve been recruiting a long time and I’ve made a lot of great relationships around the country, particularly in the Midwest," Banks said. "I’ve coached in a lot of different stops along the way. Relationships are everything, and I've had a chance to develop a lot of great ones that really bode well for me and [Penn State]."
In recruiting Detroit, Banks said he understands the kinds of players who grow up there. They're "blue-collar" players who are looking for an opportunity in a competitive environment.
That comes from the recruiting aspect as well. Detroit is a busy market for the two in-state programs that also have to fight through recruiters from Ohio State, Penn State and national powers Alabama and LSU as well.
"I feel like we have a really good product to seel and a great opportunity to sell a lot, and a lot of kids obviously have been receptive to that," Banks said. "... I'm turning over every stone, making sure that I'm evaluating every guy, whether he has no offers or has many offers. I must continue to recruit as hard as I possibly can to give us an opportunity to be successful."
And what stands out regarding that recruiting personality? Trent Gordon knows.
Even though he's from Texas, Gordon, who now plays safety for Banks, said the coach has a "charisma" that players want to follow.
"Coach Banks, he really puts his time into everybody individually," Gordon said. "And then on top of that, he just kind of has the charisma for it. He's very charming and then he just kind of lures guys in with that. He's such a real person. He always keeps it true and he's always real, so I think that's why he's a really good recruiter."
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