For the first time in several years, the Cornell football team is a veteran group. Its starting lineup is composed of mainly experienced juniors and seniors, including an extremely valuable quartet of senior captains.
Despite the mature, talented upperclassmen and the options of Robert Somborn and Jake Jatis, head coach David Archer ’05 and his staff have decided to start a sophomore at arguably the most important position on the field: quarterback.
Dalton Banks comes in to replace Somborn, who started all 10 games for the Red last season, throwing for 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Jatis was also mixed into the quarterback role from time to time, appearing in nine games and throwing for 85 yards.
But even with two seasoned veterans at his disposal, Archer ’05 has decided to go with a quarterback without any varsity experience.
“[Banks] had the best spring and so far has had the best camp,” Archer said. “I’d have no problem putting [Somborn or Jatis] in the game, but Dalton has distinguished himself a bit better, so that’s what we’ll go with.”
Even without the varsity experience, Archer said he still has faith in the sophomore to lead the Red in its imminent season because of his attitude and skillset that has come to light in the past year.
“[Banks] really is a competitor,” Archer said. “He has grown and developed day-by-day. He can make all the throws on the field.”
Archer also lauded Banks for his mobility in addition to his play-making ability with his arm.
“He’s got just enough mobility and packs a bit of a punch when he runs,” Archer continued.
The receiving core, too, trusts the new starter with the ball on gameday.
“[Banks is] much more mature than you’d think a 19-year-old sophomore would be who has not played any snaps yet,” said senior captain and tight end Matt Sullivan. “Our scrimmage against Columbia showed that he is ready to go when the bullets are flying.”
“We are totally confident with him not only as the leader of the offense but as the leader of this team,” he continued.
Before coming to Cornell, Banks was named the offensive player of the year as a senior at Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio. In his senior year, Banks amassed 2,439 yards and 28 touchdowns with six interceptions. This came after a 3,334-yard, 23-touchdown junior year.
Supporting his running prowess, the Texas native ran for 596 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior year in addition to his time on the Alamo Heights varsity baseball team.
Though he comes in with an impressive record, it will be put to the test at kickoff time this Saturday at Bucknell.