Monroe offensive lineman Hakeem Porter, left, and defensive tackle Cortez Banks both signed with Louisburg College, a community college in North Carolina, where they hope to have successful seasons and then move on to Division I programs.
ALBANY — Wal-Mart is headed to Louisburg, N.C., and he’s taking Peterman with him.
That’s what they call Hakeem Porter and Cortez Banks at Monroe High, where they both starred on opposite sides of the line. Porter (aka Wal-Mart) was one of the top offensive linemen in this part of the state, and Banks was a terror as a defensive tackle who played the game like a defensive end.
They decided to go to Louisburg College, a community college in North Carolina, together and on Wednesday they both signed letters of intent to accept scholarships there.
Both have plans of going on to play at Division I schools.
“They both can play Division I,’’ Monroe coach Charles Truitt said. “I’m looking forward to both of them playing Division I.’’
Porter said there’s no doubt in his mind that he will make it at a D-I school.
“That’s the plan,’’ he said. “I want to go there and get my academics right and then transfer to a Division I school. I can play Division I now.’’
Banks said he not only plans to make it at a Division I school, but hopes after two years at Louisburg to get a chance to play in Tallahassee.
“I talked to Fort Valley State and Alabama State, but this (Louisburg) is a good fit,” Banks said. “My plan is to go there for two years and then play at Florida State.”
Truitt sent a highlight tape on both players to Louisburg, and offers came almost immediately.
“The coach there fell in love with them,’’ Monroe assistant coach Travis Lockhart said. “It was love at first sight. He made an offer right away.’’
The two close friends were in the weight room working out two weeks ago when they decided to go to Louisburg together. Both plan to major in sports medicine.
“We can help each other,’’ Porter said. “We will probably be in some classes together, and we have a teammate (receiver Kevin Williams) who is going to St. Augustine about 30 minutes away.’’
Porter, and Banks were big reasons Monroe advanced to the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
“Both are well-grounded young men. Cortez has come a long way this year and he has come through a lot of adversity because of the passing of his grandmother in September,’’ Lockhart said. “He has really matured. He became a different player both physically and mentally.’’
It was Lockhart who gave Porter his nickname, calling him Wal-Mart not because of Porter’s size, but because when Porter smiles he looks like the smiley face in the Wal-Mart commercials.
“What can I say about him? There’s only one Wal-Mart,’’ Lockhart said. “He’s like a son to me. I’ve known him since eighth grade and watched him grow. I hope he gets his grades straightened out and pursues his true dream. His dream has always been to support his grandmother, and his going to college is one way to pay her back. He can play Division 1, easy.’’
Porter has always said he wants to play in the NFL and support his grandmother. He was a remarkable player in high school. Porter was a three-time Herald All-Area football player and he was a rare two-time Herald Dynamite Dozen selection, making the list as a junior and senior.
He graded out at 89 percent this season and had 32 pancake blocks, and was the leader of the offensive line.
“He made the calls on the offensive line for us, and he also played on the defensive line at times,’’ Truitt said. “He was a four-year starter and one of the best offensive linemen I have ever coached. He’s got great footwork, and he’s so agile for a big player. He made holes.”
Banks was a force as a defensive tackle and put up numbers like a linebacker or defensive end. He made 75 tackles, including 10 for losses and had 10 sacks and also had a fumble recovery to lead Monroe’s defensive front.
“He had 10 sacks,’’ Truitt said with a voice that let you know how impressed he was with the number. “He was a monster down there. He was getting double-teamed all the time and making plays at defensive tackle like a defensive end. It’s unheard of to have that many big plays from a defensive tackle.
“They were both such a big part of this team,’’ Truitt said. “We’re going to miss both of them.’’