MSU defensive back Johnthan Banks returns one of his interceptions against Auburn on Saturday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
When Johnthan Banks came to Mississippi State from Class 2A East Webster, it was unknown what type of player he was going to develop into.
In his senior year, it's pretty clear what type of player he is and what he brings to the MSU defense.
Banks intercepted two passes in State's 28-10 victory over Auburn Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
That was Banks' 13th and 14th career interceptions at MSU. He is now second all-time at MSU behind Walt Harris, who had 16 from 1992-95.
"I'm not worried about the interception record right now," Banks said. "I am now focused on Troy. If I get that record, I get it. If I don't, I don't. If I get second all-time, I can live with that."
Banks now is the active leader among FBS players.
His first interception came in the first half and he returned it to the end zone. The play was called back as it was ruled that he stepped out of bounds.
"We played great defense all day," Banks said. "The guys up front got a lot of pressure on the quarterback. (Kiehl Frazier) had a guy right there that had a chance to make a play, but I came up and made a great play on the ball."
Banks had the opportunity to go to the NFL in April's draft, but he decided to return to MSU for his senior year. It looks like it is going to pay off.
"He is a guy we have asked to be a leader of our team," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. "More importantly he has not only been a leader vocally and emotionally with the team, he is a leader by example at practice and leader on game day."
Bulldog junior quarterback Tyler Russell completed a career best 20-of-29 passes for 222 yards.
"We've always believed in him," Mullen said. "He's a fierce competitor. You could see that (Saturday), the poise in which he handled the game. Everything we put on him he managed throughout the game."
He also had three touchdowns.
This is the Russell's first 200-yard SEC passing game and his first 200-yard passing game since his 256 yards against Memphis in 2010.
Offensive lineman Gabe Jackson started his 28th game to give him the longest active streak for MSU.
He has started in every game since he arrived to Starkville.
Bulldogs end SEC
MSU's last SEC opening win was against South Carolina on Sept 25, 1999.
The Bulldogs beat the Gamecocks that year 17-0.
The Bulldogs were plus-four in the turnover margin against Auburn.
MSU picked off three passes and recovered two fumbles.
Mullen is 18-1 when the Bulldogs win the turnover battle. MSU is plus-seven this season in turnover margin.
close in final period
The Bulldogs led 21-10 after the third quarter. Mullen is 22-0 in his career when leading after the third quarter.
State won its 26th straight contest when leading heading into the final period.
With 56,111 fans making their way into Davis Wade Stadium to see the Bulldogs improve their record to 2-0, that is the ninth largest crowd in stadium history.
It is the 18th straight sellout.
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