Zach Banner

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Zach Banner
refer to caption
Banner in 2016
No. 72 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Position:Offensive tackle
Personal information
Born: (1993-12-25) December 25, 1993 (age 26)
Puyallup, Washington
Height:6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Weight:360 lb (163 kg)
Career information
High school:Lakes (Lakewood, Washington)
College:USC
NFL Draft:2017 / Round: 4 / Pick: 137
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Roster status:Injured reserve
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2020
Games played:23
Games started:2
Player stats at NFL.com

Zachery Samuel Banner (born December 25, 1993), nicknamed "the Hulk",[1] is American football offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). At Lakes High School, he was a two-time All-American offensive lineman. He played tackle in college football for USC, with whom he was a two-time All-American. Banner was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and made his NFL debut with the Cleveland Browns the same year.

Early years[edit]

He is a native of Lakewood, Washington, 15 minutes south of Tacoma, Washington, where he grew up on the East Side, and has also lived in Puyallup, Washington.[2][3][4] He is the biological son of former National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl offensive tackle and College Football Hall of Famer Lincoln Kennedy, who had dated his mother but never married her.[5][4][6][7] However, he was raised by Ron Banner, the superintendent of the Clover Park School District in Lakewood, who married his mother when he was eight years old and legally adopted him the following year.[4][8][9] His mother, Vanessa, is Chamorro (the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands), was born in Dededo, Guam, and lived there until she was 16 years old, and works as a middle school administrator.[10][11][12][6][4][5][excessive citations] Banner had no idea who Lincoln Kennedy was, or that he was his real father, until he was a seventh grader.[13]

He is of Chamorro and African-American descent.[14] Banner was already 5 feet (1.52 m) tall in second grade, 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) in the seventh grade, 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) the following year, and 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) and over 300 pounds (140 kilograms) his first year of high school.[13][5] His maternal grandfather was Rafael "Ralph" Mendiola Sukola, of Agana Heights and Dededo, Guam.[11][15] His younger brother, Xavier, played football at Eastern Washington University as a linebacker, and his sister, Mia, is a high school soccer goalie.[16][17][18]

High school[edit]

Banner attended Lakes High School, where he was a two-time football All-American offensive lineman on the Lancers football team, and played two seasons at left tackle.[19][20] He was named the Lancers' Most Inspirational Player when he was a freshman, and still a bench player.[13] As a junior in 2010, he made USA Today All-USA first team, Max Preps All-American second team, Max Preps All-American Medium Schools first team, Max Preps Junior All-American first team, and All-State 3-A first team.[21]

His 2011 honors as a senior included USA Today All-USA first team, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Sports Illustrated All-American first team, Max Preps All-American second team, Max Preps All-American Medium Schools first team, Prep Star Top 150 Dream Team, ESPNU 150, Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Seattle Times All-State, Orange County Register Fab 15 first team, Tacoma News Tribune Northwest Nuggets, and Tacoma News Tribune All-Area first team.[21] He was a finalist for the 2012 Watkins Award, by the National Alliance of African American Athletes, honoring the top African-American student athlete in the nation.[22][10] Regarded as a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, he was ranked as the No. 2 offensive tackle in his class, behind only D. J. Humphries.[23] He was rated the 16th-best prospect in the country by Rivals.com.[24]

Banner also played center in basketball for Lakes High School, averaging 18.6 points and 17.3 rebounds, while guiding Lakes to the 2011 Washington State Class 3A championship in his junior year.[24][21][25]

He was also the Lakes class president, logged 373 community service hours, and had a 3.6 grade point average.[21][4] His nicknames in high school were "Big Daddy" and "The Diesel."[26]

College career[edit]

Banner had more than 20 college scholarship offers.[27] Ultimately, he chose USC over Oklahoma and Washington.[28]

Banner played tackle at both positions in college football for the USC Trojans football team from 2013-16 under head coaches Steve Sarkisian and Clay Helton.[29] He played 39 games, and started 37 of them.[29]

He red-shirted in 2012.[30] Banner played only two games during his red-shirted freshman 2013 season, as the back-up offensive tackle against Hawaii and Boston College, before being ruled out for the season due to an injury to both hips that required two hip surgeries.[31][29][25][31] He had been born with a condition known as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) that involved extra bone growth on his hips, that prevented him from squatting past 90 degrees, and had corrective hip surgery to address the problem.[31][32][31]

In 2014 as a sophomore Banner played every game at right tackle and was College Football News Sophomore All-American honorable mention.[29][15] In 2015 as a junior he was First Team All-Pac-12, Associated Press All-Pac 12 second-team, Phil Steele's All-Pac-12 second-team, CollegeSportsMadness.com All-American third-team, and won USC's Offensive Lineman of the Year Award.[29][33] He started all 14 games and his main position was at right tackle, but he started two games at left tackle during his junior year against Utah and Wisconsin.[33] In 2015 he allowed only nine total pressures on 426 pass attempts, according to Pro Football Focus, which graded him as the season's top pass-blocking right tackle, and the 15th-best run-blocking right tackle.[34]

As a senior in 2016, and captain of the team, he was again All-Pac-12 first-team, was CollegeSportsMadness.com All American first-team, Senior CLASS Award All-American first-team, Phil Steele All-Pac-12 first-team, a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award (given to the nation's top senior excelling in community/classroom/character/competition), and was the team's Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year.[33][33][35] He was the largest player in college football; at one point in 2015 the 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) Banner weighed 385 pounds (175 kilograms).[3] He played in the Senior Bowl in January 2017.[36]

Banner also played basketball for USC in 2013, but did not see any playing time.[25] Banner joined the historically Jewish, fraternity Zeta Beta Tau, whose members reflected a broad range of ethnicities and races, and majored in Sociology.[14][29] He won the USC Trojans’ community service award.[4]

Statistics[edit]

Banner at the 2016 Pac-12 Conference Media Days with then teammate Adoree' Jackson and head coach Clay Helton.
Year Team G GS Defense
Solo Total
2013 USC 2 0 0 0
2014 USC 13 13 1 1
2015 USC 14 14 1 1
2016 USC 10 10 0 0
Career 39 37 2 2

Source:[37]

Professional career[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 8 38 in
(2.04 m)
353 lb
(160 kg)
34 78 in
(0.89 m)
10 34 in
(0.27 m)
5.58 s 5.21 s 8.31 s 23 12 in
(0.60 m)
7 ft 8 in
(2.34 m)
22 reps
All values from NFL Scouting Combine[38]

Indianapolis Colts[edit]

Banner was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round (137th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.[39] He became the first Chamorro drafted in an NFL draft.[40] He also was the tallest lineman drafted since Maryland’s Jared Gaither (6-9, 340) in 2007.[36] He was easily the biggest lineman on the Colts' roster.[41] Rob Rang, a senior NFL Draft analyst from NFLDraftScout.com, observed: "He is a massive, massive human being. To be that big, and also that light on his feet, is rare."[36] The Colts had obtained the pick used to select Banner by trading tight end Dwayne Allen to the New England Patriots. Chuck Pagano, the Colts' coach, said: "It’s like an eclipse. He’s a giant. It’s scary how big this guy is. He can barely fit into the locker room."[4] After weeks of training camp, Banner made the Colts’ 53-man roster.[10] However, one day later, after other waived players from other teams became available, on September 3, 2017, Banner was waived by the Colts.[10][42]

Cleveland Browns[edit]

On September 4, 2017, less than 24 hours after he was waived, Banner was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns.[11][43] Banner played in Cleveland's last 8 games, taking a combined 27 snaps on offense and 18 snaps on special teams.[44] He was released on March 15, 2018.[45]

Carolina Panthers[edit]

On March 16, 2018, Banner was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers.[46] He was waived by the Panthers on May 31, 2018.[47]

Pittsburgh Steelers[edit]

Banner (#72) on the sideline, 2019

Banner was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 12, 2018.[48] He played 22% of offensive snaps for the Steelers, in 14 games (one start, in Week 12), in 2019.[49][30][50] He played his first game for the Steelers on September 15 against Seattle, and made his first NFL start on November 24 against Cincinnati.[30] He had 24 pass protection reps, during which he did not allow a single pressure, quarterback sack, hurry, or quarterback hit.[51] Banner became a cult hero who was featured in viral videos showing the team's largest player running downfield and flattening linebackers and defensive backs who got in his way, known to many fans as "No. 72" because he would be announced as "No. 72 is reporting as eligible" at home games, which was met with increasingly loud cheers and ovations throughout the season.[52][49][53][54]

Banner re-signed with the Steelers for a one-year, $1.75 million contract on March 18, 2020.[55][50] Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opined that it was one of the Steelers' most underrated moves, as Banner could compete for right tackle as he "has good feet, he’s athletic ... and he definitely has size.... He has a chance to be an excellent tackle if he keeps working at it.... run blocking is what he clearly does well."[53] He entered the 2020 season as the Steelers starting right tackle. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 and was placed on season-ending injured reserve on September 16, 2020.

Personal life[edit]

Banner created the B3Foundation in 2017.[56] It supports students in Guam, Tacoma, Washington, and Los Angeles both academically and athletically.[57]

Banner posted an emotional video in response to an anti-Semitic Instagram post by fellow NFL player DeSean Jackson on Twitter, becoming one of the first NFL players to speak out on the issue.[14][58][59] He received a great deal of praise for speaking out in the video, which has been viewed more than 790,000 times.[58] In the video he explains that his friends from USC taught him about the Jewish community. He was a member of Zeta Beta Tau, a historically Jewish fraternity, and credits his fraternity brothers with sharing their families' experiences as part of his learning about the Jewish community. He said: "We need to understand that Jewish people deal with the same amount of hate and similar hardships and hard times. I’m not trying to get emotional right now but I want to preach to the Black and Brown community that we need to uplift them and put our arms around them just as much. When we talk about Black Lives Matter and talk about elevating ourselves, we can’t do that while stepping on the back of other people to elevate ourselves. Change your heart, put your arm around people, and let’s all uplift each other."[60] He added: "We shouldn't be blind to other groups' history ... and other stuff they have gone through, some of the things that have set them back. If you don't know what the Holocaust is, you're really just failing yourself."[58]

Banner's words gained traction on social media, and he received messages from people who felt the impact of his words on a personal level, sharing that his message made them cry.[58] Banner's B3 Foundation, which supports Black and Brown youth in Tacoma, Los Angeles, and Guam, quickly received an outpouring of support, receiving more than $60,000 in donations, most in increments of $18, a Jewish tradition honoring the numeric value assigned to Hebrew letters that mean "life" (chai).[14][58] Banner said: "It's just really, really powerful to know that in response to sticking my neck out, they have not only put their arm around me and said, 'We appreciate it. We got your back as well'. I'm ready for that challenge, to be able to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community as I am also trying to uplift my own through the Black Lives Matter, and the Black and brown people."[58] Jews across the nation invited him to Shabbat dinners, and a number sent him fresh baked challah bread in the mail.[14][61] He said: "I made the video to defend my friends. I didn’t expect the whole Jewish community to have my back."[14] He added: "I’m talking to rabbis and going downtown to the Tree of Life synagogue that had the shooting, to look at the kids and say, ‘Hey, I got your back.’ That’s my job, as Zach Banner, moving forward."[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "30 Key Trojans: #19 Zach Banner". USCFootball.com. July 29, 2015.
  2. ^ "Browns claim OL Zach Banner". www.clevelandbrowns.com. September 4, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Kaplan, Emily (November 9, 2016). "USC OL Zach Banner Tries to Keep the Weight Off". Sports Illustrated.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Keefer, Zak (May 13, 2017). "Mammoth rookie has big personality, bigger challenge ahead of him". The Indianapolis Star.
  5. ^ a b c Corcoran, Tully (December 29, 2016). "Big Man, Big Personality and Big Plans: USC's Zach Banner Is Ready for Stardom". Bleacher Report.
  6. ^ a b "USC's Zach Banner looks to be first Chamorro drafted in NFL". Kuam News.
  7. ^ Fetters, Chris (April 19, 2010). "Zach Banner - A Profile in Character". 247 Sports. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  8. ^ "You wouldn't like him when he's angry, but he's hardly ever angry, so everybody likes him". The Sports Daily. June 19, 2011.
  9. ^ Engichy, Kasmira (June 30, 2017). "NFL draftee Zach Banner to visit Guam, his roots". Pacific Daily News.
  10. ^ a b c d "Banner waived by Colts". The Guam Daily Post. September 3, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c Matt Weiss (September 6, 2017). "Cleveland Browns claim Zach Banner". The Guam Daily Post.
  12. ^ "Big man, big plans: USC's Zach Banner wants to be first player from Guam in NFL". Yahoo. March 3, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c "Zach Banner - A Profile in Character". ScoutFootball.com. April 19, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Yair Rosenberg (July 16, 2020). "Zach Banner Tackles Anti-Semitism and Racism; How a half-Black, half-Chamorro football player discovered the Jewish community—and what it can learn from him". Tablet Magazine.
  15. ^ a b Watanabe, Masako (April 29, 2017). "USC OT star goes to the Colts in fourth round of NFL draft". USA TODAY.
  16. ^ "Xavier Banner - 2017-18 - FOOTBALL". Eastern Washington University Athletics.
  17. ^ Engichy, Kasmira (June 30, 2017). "Chamorro NFL draft pick Zach Banner to visit his roots — Guam". Pacific Daily News.
  18. ^ Joshua Hart (November 5, 2019). "Mountain View girls soccer season on the brink after 1-0 loss". The Columbian.
  19. ^ Gary Klein (October 23, 2015). "USC's Zach Banner moves to left tackle against Utah". Los Angeles Times.
  20. ^ Newberry, Ron (November 18, 2011). "Talented Lakes Lancers fall short again". The Seattle Times.
  21. ^ a b c d "Zach Banner - Men's Basketball". USC Athletics.
  22. ^ Rahshaun Haylock (February 20, 2012). "Future USC Trojan Zach Banner A Finalist For Watkins Award". CBS Los Angeles.
  23. ^ "NCAA Football Recruiting Rankings," Yahoo.
  24. ^ a b Doug Pacey. "Lakes' Zach Banner chooses USC". Longview Daily News.
  25. ^ a b c "Zach Banner". www.steelers.com.
  26. ^ David Auguste (September 21, 2011). "The Cutting Room Floor: Zach Banner". ESPN.
  27. ^ Elliott, Bud (January 30, 2012). "Zach Banner Commits To USC Over Washington". SBNation.com.
  28. ^ Banner, Zach (February 6, 2019). "It was between USC, Oklahoma, and UW for me. I made my decision around the school, football program, and schools overall network and alumni. After 4 different head coaches, and 5 position coaches, and a lot of off the field drama each year, I would make the same decision 10/10" – via Twitter.
  29. ^ a b c d e f Media Guide; 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers
  30. ^ a b c "Zach Banner". www.steelers.com.
  31. ^ a b c d Moore, Jordan. "Spring Breakout: Zach Banner, OL". USC Athletics.
  32. ^ "Report: Pac-12 considering overhaul of conference structure". USCFootball.com.
  33. ^ a b c d "Colts Sign Rookie Offensive Lineman Zach Banner". www.colts.com.
  34. ^ "USC OT Zach Banner winning the battle of the bulge". Los Angeles Daily News. August 16, 2016.
  35. ^ "Seattle Seahawks", The News Tribune.
  36. ^ a b c "Zach Banner: A large man with big-time NFL aspirations," The News Tribune.
  37. ^ "Zach Banner". usctrojans.com. USC Trojans. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  38. ^ "Zach Banner Draft Profile". NFL.com. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  39. ^ "Colts select OT Zach Banner in 4th round". Colts.com. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  40. ^ "Zach Banner taken by Colts, becomes first Chamorro drafted in NFL". Kuam News.
  41. ^ "Colts Draft USC Offensive Tackle Zach Banner In Round Four". www.colts.com. April 29, 2017.
  42. ^ Walker, Andrew (September 3, 2017). "Colts Claim Five Players Off Waivers". Colts.com. Archived from the original on November 9, 2017.
  43. ^ "Browns claim OL Zach Banner". ClevelandBrowns.com. September 4, 2017. Archived from the original on April 25, 2018.
  44. ^ "Zach Banner 2017 Fantasy Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  45. ^ "Browns release 10 players". ClevelandBrowns.com. March 15, 2018. Archived from the original on March 16, 2018.
  46. ^ Alper, Josh (March 16, 2018). "Panthers claim OL Zach Banner off waivers". NBC Sports.
  47. ^ Gantt, Darin (May 31, 2018). "Panthers waive tackle Zach Banner". NBC Sports.
  48. ^ "Steelers sign Banner". Steelers.com. August 12, 2018.
  49. ^ a b Brooke Pryor (March 25, 2020). "Pittsburgh Steelers' 2020 NFL free-agent signings: Ebron brings another offensive weapon". ESPN.
  50. ^ a b "Steelers' Zach Banner: Re-signs for one year". CBS Sports. March 18, 2020.
  51. ^ Farabaugh, Nick (July 6, 2020). "Film Study: Banner or Okorafor, Who Wins Steelers' Right Tackle Spot?". Steelers Now.
  52. ^ Gerry Dulac (October 30, 2019). "Filling the Tuitt gap takes more than one". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  53. ^ a b Paul Zeise (March 24, 2020). "Zach Banner signing might be the Steelers' most underrated move". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  54. ^ Saunders, Alan (October 29, 2019). "Jumbo TE Zach Banner Becoming a Steelers Fan Favorite". Steelers Now.
  55. ^ Varley, Teresa (March 18, 2020). "Banner signs one-year deal". Steelers.com. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  56. ^ Matt Weiss (March 2, 2020). "Zach Banner's B3 Foundation, Larry Ogunjobi inspire on Guam". The Guam Daily Post.
  57. ^ "B3 Foundation – A Zach Banner Foundation".
  58. ^ a b c d e f Kobrinetz, Shayna (July 11, 2020). "USC alum Zach Banner uses platform to fight anti-semitism". USC Athletics.
  59. ^ Zach Banner tweet twitter.com, July 8, 2020.
  60. ^ Brooke Pryor (July 9, 2020). "Steelers' Banner: 'Let's all uplift each other'". ESPN.
  61. ^ Shiryn Ghermezian (July 22, 2020). "Pittsburgh Steelers Lineman Zach Banner Tastes Challah for First Time". Algemeiner.

External links[edit]