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Tavian Banks

Running Back —  1990-92


Ask the question, “Who is the best running back in Iowa high school history?” and more often than not the name Tavian Banks is uttered.  Simply put, Tavian’s prep football career was spectacular and more than fifteen years after it ended, his exploits on the field are still the topic of conversation.

Tavian’s career as a Bulldog began fast and furious:  as a 9th grader in 1989, he started on the 10th grade squad and helped lead them to a 9-0 record.  Then—as the Bulldog varsity squad was attempting to win their third-consecutive state title in the midst of a 36-game winning streak—Tavian was moved up to the varsity and his very first play at that level occurred in the Semifinal game against the Linn-Mar Lions when he blew past a senior, all-state Lion’s player to catch a 24-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Matt Ulrich to put the Bulldogs up, 14-6.  Unfortunately, a bogus holding penalty negated the touchdown and the Bulldogs eventually lost the game to end both their winning streak and state title bid.  However, the point had been made for all future opponents of Banks and the Bulldogs:  “Beware!” as it was obvious he was going to be a special player.

As a sophomore in 1990, Banks suffered a season-ending injury in the opening game against Burlington when his leg was severely broken.  Although the Bulldogs won, 17-12, to win their 27th consecutive M.A.C. contest, the loss of Tavian was immeasurable as the Bulldogs eventually finished the season 5-4 and failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in five years.  However, in 1991, Banks returned full-speed and led the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record that was capped by a 6-0 victory over Sioux City Heelan in the state championship game in which his 68-yard touchdown run was the difference.  For season totals, Banks rushed for a new school rushing record of 1,905 yards and 32 touchdowns and his 11.2 average per carry that season still is a jaw-dropper.  A 1st Team All-State selection in 1991, Banks was a threat anytime he touched the ball and was proven by his return of punts (7 for 163 yards, 2 TDs, 22.2 average) and kickoffs (7 for 355 yards, 3 TDs, 50.7 average).

Bank’s senior season in 1992 witnessed the Bulldogs go 13-0 and again win their second consecutive state championship—which made the Bulldogs not just the first team in Class 4A win back-to-back titles as they had done in 1987 and ’88, but also the first team to do it twice.  During the regular season Bettendorf had been virtually unstoppable as proven by their 337-49 points scored/allowed ratio.  However, in the early rounds of the playoffs, the Bulldogs had a tougher time as opponents keyed on Banks and probably the best Iowa prep game ever played was in the Quarterfinals when Bettendorf faced off against Iowa City High—a game which is now known as the “Banks vs. Dwight” contest.  Bettendorf won, 31-28, and two games later in the state championship against West Des Moines Valley, Bettendorf rushed for a net total of 368 yards while Banks rushed for 250 yards—both still records in 4A—on the way to a 41-0 victory.

In 1992, Tavian rushed for a total of 2,394 yards and 42 touchdowns for yet another 11.2 average per carry and also again returned punts (5 for 135 yards, 1 TD, 27.0 average) and kickoffs (5 for 216 yards, 1 TD, 43.2 average. As well, dating back to the seventh game of the 1991 season, he helped Bettendorf win 20-consecutive games.  Tavian was also again selected as a 1st Team All-State running back along with being named as both a Parade All-American and the High School Football Yearbook “Player of the Year.”  Finally, his 1992 squad was ranked #21 in the nation by the L.A. Times and his grand totals in high school were 4,317 rushing yards and 75 touchdowns.  Tavian was also an outstanding soccer player and was named the “Gatorade Player of the Year” three times.

Tavian then played football for the Iowa Hawkeyes from 1994-97 and during his senior year in 1997, rushed for a school record 1,691 yards that stood until the 2008 season.  Against Tulsa in the second game, he rushed for 314 yards—still a school record for most rushing yards in a game—and at the end of his senior campaign was named a 2nd Team All-American by Football News.  With his blazing speed and receiving capabilities, Tavian was then drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 4th round of the 1998 NFL Draft.  After a promising start to the 1999 season, Tavian suffered a major knee injury and missed over two years due to surgery and rehab.  He then attempted a comeback with the New Orleans Saints in 2002 and was actually named to the practice squad in 2003 before being waived by the Saints in 2004 due to the fact that his knee never fully recovered from the initial injury.

Banks returned to the college ranks when he served as assistant running backs coach for the Louisville Cardinals in 2006, but left after one season when Louisville’s head coach, Bobby Petrinio, became the new head coach for the Atlanta Falcons.  Currently, Tavian is the Sports Performance Director with Velocity Sports Performance in Naperville, Illinois.  Tavian was inducted into the Iowa Football Players Hall of Fame on Friday, November 21, 2008.