Banks among Falcons cuts

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Updated: 8/30/2013 4:35 pm

Flowery Branch, GA (Sports Network) - Brian Banks' second chance ended in Atlanta on Friday.

The free agent linebacker, who was once wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and rape, was released by the Falcons.

Banks' odyssey began in 2002 when he was just 17. He had already secured a scholarship offer from then-USC coach Pete Carroll when a Long Beach Poly High School classmate accused him of rape.

Banks admitted to a romantic encounter with Wanetta Gibson but denied any sexual intercourse. By the end of the day, however, he was sitting in jail, charged with two counts of forcible rape and the kidnapping.

Banks was eventually kicked off the football team, expelled from school and his USC scholarship was history but that was the least of his problems.

Despite no DNA evidence linking Banks to any crime, Banks claimed his lawyer feared he wouldn't be able to get a fair trial due to his size and race. So she, an African-American herself, convinced the young and immature teenager to plead no contest, something that took a possible 41-year jail sentence off the table.

In play, however, was a penalty of anywhere from 18 months to five years, and Banks was hit with the maximum. Gibson, meanwhile, used the legal system to sue the school district for a lack of security and eventually won a $1.5 million settlement.

By 2007, after Banks spent five years in Chino State Prison, he was finally released at the age of 22. He was hardly free, though, forced to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and register as a sex offender.

Things finally began to turn for Banks in 2012 when he was surfing the Internet on his computer. Gibson, the same woman who accused him of a heinous crime, reached out on Facebook, sending Banks a friend request.

Stunned, Banks got in touch with the help of a private investigator and eventually asked Gibson to help him get exonerated. Eventually Gibson admitted on tape that Banks never raped or kidnapped her, and with the help of the California Innocence Project, Banks took the taped confession to the district attorney's office.

On May 24, 2012, after five years in jail and five years on probation, Banks' nightmare was finally over.

His dream of an NFL career, however, was derailed on Friday when Banks was one 11 players released by the Falcons. He was originally signed by the Falcons as a free agent back in March after spending the 2012 season with Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.

Also cut by Atlanta on Friday was guard Theo Goins, defensive tackle Neal Huynh, cornerback Terrence Johnson, safety Charles Mitchell, defensive tackle Micanor Regis, offensive tackle Alec Savoie, linebacker Pat Schiller, kicker Jeremy Shelley, cornerback Peyton Thompson, and running back Ronnie Wingo.

The Falcons also placed quarterback Sean Renfree and tight end Andrew Szczerba on injured reserve.

Atlanta's roster now is at 62 players and must be reduced to 53 by 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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