The Atlanta Falcons announced today that they have signed linebacker Brian Banks, a 27-year-old linebacker who was convicted in high school of raping and kidnapping a high school classmate in 2002. Banks served five years in jail for the crime as well as four years of probation before finally being exonerated last year.

He was sentenced to jail after high school before he could play a single down at USC, where he had verbally committed.

The Falcons released a statement on the team’s website announcing Banks’ signing earlier today.

“We are pleased to have Brian join our team,” said general manager Thomas Dimitroff. “We had a chance to work him out last year and have been monitoring his progress since then. He has worked extremely hard for this chance over the last year and he has shown us that he is prepared for this opportunity. We are happy that Brian will have a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NFL and we look forward to seeing him on the field.”

Banks, 6-2, 250 pounds, spent the 2012 season with Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League (UFL) where he appeared in two games and posted one tackle. The UFL season was cut short, reportedly because of financial issues.

Banks previously received tryouts with Kansas City, San Diego, and San Francisco, and attended minicamp with the Seattle Seahawks prior to signing with the Locomotives.
Fox News reporter Jay Glazer first reported the news on Twitter.

“Gang, I’m reporting the best scoop I could ever report: my man FINALLY has his dream back: Falcons have just signed @brianbanksfree!!!!”

CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes also did a profile of the young man a few weeks ago.

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