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Football: Former Iowa State nose guard Latrell Bankston lured to Louisiana by Ragin' Cajuns scheme

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Jan. 12, 2021

Latrell Bankston hopes to play professionally.

It’s why the Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College product from Georgia said he chose to spend the 2020 season at Iowa State.

It’s also why the 6-foot, 301-pound backup nose guard is transferring from the Big 12 program to UL, where he hopes the defensive scheme and coaches – specifically coach Billy Napier and assistant Rory Segrest – can get him where he wants.

“Coach Napier is a really great coach,” Bankston told The Daily Advertiser. “He’s one of the best coaches in college football right now, and his name is always in the ‘coaches … going somewhere else.’

“Coach Segrest, the d-line coach, he used coach in the NFL, and I feel like with those two I can accomplish all my dreams and make it to the NFL one day.”

Napier was a candidate for openings at South Carolina and Auburn, while Segrest is a former special teams coordinator and defensive line coach with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2006-10.

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Click here for the UL vs. Iowa State football game photo gallery.

UL adds multiple Power 5 transfers

Bankston, who intends to take part in spring practice, is one of several transfers from Big 12 programs planning to join the Cajuns of the Sun Belt Conference.

UL announced the addition of TCU receiver John Stephens Jr. and Kansas State safety Tyrone Lewis when the NCAA’s early signing period opened last month.

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The Cajuns also quietly added 6-3, 240-pound outside linebacker Clinton Anokwuru, a Class of 2020 Kansas signee who didn’t play as a freshman, making it official with only a Dec. 24 tweet.

Anokwuru – a product of Bush High in Fort Bend County, Texas – entered the transfer portal shortly after Kansas’ 0-9 season ended. Offered by UL coming out of high school, Anokwuwu also visited Colorado State and Washington State before signing with Kansas according to 247Sports.

UL has an additional new commitment from Matthew Anderson, a 6-6, 255-pound offensive lineman from Leesville High who redshirted at Nebraska in 2019 and opted out of 2020 for COVID-19 related reasons shortly before the Big Ten decided to play the season.

“Excited to have found my HOME,” Anderson tweeted Monday. 

The Cajuns have not yet acknowledged the additions of Anderson or Bankston, a product of Woodstock High northwest of Atlanta, who also was recruited by UL coming out of Hutchinson.

Bankston appeared in 11 games in his lone season with the Cyclones, playing in all but their Fiesta Bowl win over Oregon.

He finished with 16 total tackles including 4.5 for loss, 3.5 of which were sacks. One of those sacks coincidentally came in the Cajuns’ season-opening upset win at Iowa State; two came in a win over Texas.

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It's all about the Cajuns culture

Bankston said he picked UL after seeing Napier is “all-in with the program.”

“He built the culture around the team, and … me coming from Iowa State, and us building a culture, I fit perfectly in with what they have over here,” said Bankston, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining if he opts to use both.

“Coach Segrest,” he added, “has all the tools, I believe, that can make the best player I can possibly be.”

Bankston chose UL knowing the Cajuns return two key interior defensive linemen, starting nose Tayland Humphrey, who opted to stay with the program rather than declare for the NFL Draft, and starter Zi’Yon Hill.

Out:Ragin' Cajuns played Iowa State without Zi'Yon Hill

“With me, him (Humphrey) and Zi’Yon … I feel like we have one we have one of the best d-line units in the whole country, if not the best,” he said. “I feel like we can take over college football and we can win out, and hopefully make it to the Peach Bowl this upcoming season.

“I feel like with Coach Napier … we can make it to the best bowl game the program has ever been to.”

Bankston said he transferred from Iowa State because “it wasn’t really a good schematic fit.”

“That’s the only reason why I left,” he said. “I just feel like I can play as a 3-tech and really show my versatility on the d-line.

“It was hard, because I built a relationship with everybody there. But it was kind of not (hard), at the same time, because I knew that I could impact a team a lot better if I was used in the right scheme.”

Whether that will be for one season or two at UL remains to be seen.

“It depends on how I progress as a player,” Bankston said.

“If I feel like I’ve got another year of development left to be the best I can possibly be to get ready for the NFL then, yeah, (two seasons at UL), but if I feel I’m at my peak I’m gonna go to the next level.”

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