After the 2020 Notre Dame football season ended, it was widely speculated that had Aaron Banks returned to Notre Dame in 2021 for a 5th year, he would have slid out to left tackle. Banks confirmed that on Monday when he Zoomed with the media leading up to Notre Dame’s Pro Day.
“If I would have come back, I would have been the left tackle,” Aaron Banks said. Banks, Notre Dame’s starting left guard for the past two and a half seasons, technically had two years of eligibility left due to the NCAA’s free year for all 2021 scholarship football players, but ultimately decided on pursuing the NFL instead of another at Notre Dame.
“I talked to a lot of people. I asked a lot of questions – a lot of former players, what would they do if they were in my position. The consensus came back that I should leave,” Banks said on Monday. “ Three of the guys that I played with for the last three years were leaving, so I felt like it was my time to depart with them.”
As Banks noted, he is leaving with three fellow starting offensive linemen leading to a complete rebuild of the Fighting Irish offensive line in 2021. Had he returned at left tackle, it would have had a domino effect on the rest of the line. Without his return, the first domino to fall on the offensive line is Jarrett Patterson playing at tackle when he is healthy.
Banks draft projections range from 2nd to 5th round at the moment, so where he lands will be interesting. Another year on the college level – especially playing left tackle – could have potentially solidified him as more of a top-of-the-draft type prospect. Banks mentioned that he specifically talked to Sam Mustipher a lot in making his decision. Mustipher went undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft but has found a home with the Chicago Bears while starting seven games in 2020.
Still, we won’t know for sure until the end of April where he ultimately lands. What we do know for sure is that the Notre Dame offensive line is going to look very different in 2021 than it did a year ago.