After another move, Southern Lab’s Cedrick Banks excels at center _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Offensive player Cedric Banks runs through drills during practice, Tuesday, November 3, 2015, at the Southern University Lab School in Baton Rouge, La.

Cedrick Banks had no choice but to make the move.

His position coaches, Patrick Tyson and Jacob Davis, insisted on it.

After receiving the nod to start at offensive tackle to begin this season, he’d be shuffled again.

Now eight games in, the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Banks — known as “Big Country” because of his combination of strength, speed and size — may be the most versatile player on the Kittens roster after playing multiple positions on the offensive line.

The sophomore filled in at guard in a scrimmage against Parkview Baptist. He played tackle in a preseason jamboree with St. Michael and is now anchoring a line that includes of seniors Donald Clark and Chad Smith and freshmen Kardell Thomas, Jaquez Wallace and Rashad Simpson.

Banks, who was hesitant to make the most recent move, has settled into his latest position and is excelling at it.

“We made the switch because in the jamboree we got a few bad snaps, and the next practice they moved me to center,” Banks said. “It was ok. I didn’t really want to play it at first. I liked tackle, but at center it’s easier to get to your blocks than at tackle. At tackle, you have to guess where your man is going. But they’re both easy to me.”

Southern Lab coach Marcus Randall and his staff were looking for an agile big man who could consistently deliver snaps, lead blocks and communicate with the other offensive linemen. Banks fit the bill.

“We’ve asked him to do multiple things as far as playing the line for us, and he’s done a great job at pretty much everything we ask him to do. He’s been moved from tackle to guard. Now he’s been playing center for us,” Randall said.

“He pretty much makes the calls and gets us going in the right direction. He points out the different things the defense is doing front-wise and makes sure that all of our lineman are moving in the right direction.”

Randall likened his young center’s raw ability to his former LSU teammate and All-American Ben Wilkerson. In 2004, Wilkerson was awarded the Rimington Trophy, presented to the most outstanding center in college football.

Banks’ biggest test came against IMG Academy on Oct. 9 — a game in which the Kittens were held scoreless for the only time this season. Banks said he wasn’t used to IMG’s bigger bodies.

But Banks is also trying to create mismatches on the other side of the ball, experimenting on the defensive line. He said defensive line is quickly becoming one of his favorite places to play.

“I like D-line,” Banks said. “I didn’t really play last year, but I’m getting more and more reps. I like D-line because you get to hit people.”

Another test awaits Banks and the Kittens (6-2, 4-0) when they face rival Kentwood in a District 6-1A matchup and regular-season finale Friday. The Kangaroos (8-1, 4-0) are riding a six-game win streak having outscored their past three opponents 120-46.