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2023 NFL Draft

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In His Words: Deonte Banks - A Draft Day Dream
Deonte Banks reflects on his long and winding road to the moment when his life would change forever.
By Deonte Banks May 03, 2023
Photographs By University of Maryland Athletics

Before he knew he would be selected by the Giants with the 24th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, cornerback Deonte Banks wrote the following for the University of Maryland Athletics website. This is his his words.

Draft Day. The day I've been waiting for since I was a kid. What a journey it has been to get here.

I remember as a little boy - probably about eight years old - running up and down the steepest part of Montebello Hill in Baltimore. I would wake up and go as many mornings as I could and would run the steepest hill there every time. I tried to get my cousin and brother to go, but they never wanted to come.

It was me out there by myself. Well, me and my father. My father would be the one to take me there. And he would hold me accountable. When we were on that hill, I was going to do exactly what I said I was going to do before I started.

Even at eight, it was always in the back of my mind that I was doing all that hard work so I could make it to the NFL one day. I always had that dedication inside of me.

I was doing the runs for speed but also because of the dedication it showed. I was proving something to myself. I was always really dedicated to football. Because I feel like if you love the sport, it will love you back.

My cousin's mother, TJ, used to tell me that I was ahead of my time. She said that because I was always focused. I was always locked into the goal. I talked about making it to the NFL all the time. All the time.

I got a lot of, 'What's your plan B? Most people don't make it to the NFL.' Teachers and people would say things like that. But I never listened to any of it. I've never focused on Plan B's because it takes away from my Plan A.

I get that dedication and work ethic from my dad. 100 percent. That's easy. He always showed me you could get exactly what you wanted. All you have to do is lock in, focus on what you have to do, and block all of the outside noise out.

I remember when we were younger, he wanted a Honda Odyssey. My father worked at the Independent Can Company. He didn't make that much money. Sometimes he worked seven days a week, sometimes six, but he always worked 12 hours a day.

He would tell me things he was going to get, and through hard work, he always got them. The Honda Odyssey, he got that. Years later, he wanted a Honda Coupe, and he got that. Just recently, he wanted a Honda Infiniti, and he got that too. I've seen him work hard for every single thing he has. And I always wanted to do the same.

And when my first NFL paycheck hits, I'm going to buy him a Benz or a Beamer to thank him.

I always knew I would be in this position, about to get drafted. But I'm not gonna lie; it did get a little scary at some points.

Offers were a little slow for me while I was in high school. It wasn't like every college in the country was chasing after me or anything like that. But, once I got that Maryland offer, I knew I was good. I knew I was on pace to get to where I wanted to be.

I remember getting that offer like it was yesterday. My parents were with me in the head coach's office, and I started to cry tears of joy when I got it. I committed about five days later. It was an easy decision. Maryland was always my dream school. It was the home school. It was always where I saw myself since I was a little kid. It was a dream come true.

But college football didn't come easy to me right away.

Coming from a 3A Maryland Public School at Edgewood High School, Fall camp was way different than a D1 FBS camp. In college, it's way harder, it's way longer, there are so many more meetings, there are two-a-days. In high school, camp is from 7-11 in the morning, and then you have the rest of your day on summer break.

View photos of the Giants' draft picks touring the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Football isn't every part of your day like when you first get to a school like Maryland. I never had that schedule before. I can't lie; it was definitely hard going to meetings, practice, and then meetings again.

Eventually, I figured it out. And I grew so much as a player and as a man during my four years as a Terp.

One of the games that really sticks out to me is the one against Ohio State this past year. I was really excited for it. We didn't play well against them my freshman year. Then we didn't play them during the COVID year, and I was hurt my junior year, so this was my last shot.

I put together some big plays in that game. Locked down some big-name receivers. I think maybe it was the first time some people really realized what I could do.

For me, it felt good, but it wasn't anything that I didn't already know. I worked for all that. I already knew what kind of player I was and that I got this. This was just my time to show everyone else that I was one of the top corners in the class.

No, not just one of the top corners; I feel that I'm the top corner in the class. I already knew that about myself, but maybe that game was a chance for the rest of the world to see.

It was the same thing at the NFL Combine. Me and JB kinda blew up on social media with a bunch of people taking note of what we could do.

But that wasn't surprising for us. Me and JB have always been competing with each other for years. We make each other better.

If you go back to Maryland, it was always us trying to get more interceptions than each other or to break up more passes. And then, when we started training for the combine together, it was seeing which one had the highest vert or trying to beat each other in the broad; we even raced against each other a few times. Our results were just a representation of how hard we both work.

It's crazy that it's actually the week of the NFL Draft now. I'm not gonna lie; it hasn't begun to sink in yet. I just know that I'm going to be filled with so much emotion when I see that phone call come in. A whole lot of emotion.

I know it will be emotional for my parents too.

I think my father might shed some tears. And I've never seen him cry. My mother is going to cry for sure, you can count on that!

It'll be special to share the moment with them and the rest of my family. This doesn't happen without my family and my people.

They're the ones who've seen how far I've come. They've seen all of it up close. This is all I've ever wanted, and they know that. They're going to be really proud of me.

My people always instilled in me to not be a follower. They always told me if you don't want to do something, don't let it be done. Because people know right from wrong. You got your own mind, so keep it. And then they always instilled in me to be respectful and have manners. I've always been a respectful kid. I'm not someone who's gonna disrespect people; that's not who I am.

I've carried those lessons with me. And I've just always kept my focus, kept locking in on the dream.

I mean, I came from Edgewood High School, you know what I'm saying? I played for Parkside. I'm from Baltimore. And I still made it happen.

Now I feel like I'm that motivation for the kids that I used to be like, and that feels really good. Any kid can see me now and know that it can be done. All you have to do is lock in and do what you're supposed to do.

I would tell any of those kids to just keep going. Keep going and going. Don't let anything stop you from trying to do what you're trying to do. Don't let anyone peer pressure you into doing something you don't want to do. And be respectful. Be respectful to people. It's going to take you far.

My journey isn't even close to over, though. I gotta represent my people. I gotta put on for the next kid from Baltimore who's running Montebello Hill. And I take a lot of pride in that.

That's one of the things I'll be thinking about when I hear my name called on Draft Night.

Step into the new draft room as the Giants make their picks for the 2023 class.


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