5 Things: Jaylen Bannister
Jaylen Bannister didn’t know that Heidelberg – the first college among several that he visited – would become home. He had been recruited by defensive coordinator Branden Jakubcin, among others, and although he was interested in continuing to play football, he “just wanted to go to school.” Although late in the game, Jaylen, who’s from Berea, Ohio, committed to Heidelberg and he knows now he made the right decision.
More than football
The idea of being a student-athlete appealed to Jaylen, who got some playing time his freshman year. Sophomore year, he came down with mononucleosis. That was a tough way to start the season for the speedy cornerback. He’s feeling great now and plans to hit the field running next year during his junior year next fall. A sprinter in high school, Jaylen also plans to compete for the ‘Berg track team this spring, but he‘s careful not to overload himself. “Being in season helps with time management,” he says.
Residence life skills
To supplement the cost of tuition, Jaylen decided to become an RA this year. It’s the perfect job for a student-athlete, and it’s helped him develop skills such as leadership, communication and public speaking. “Your social skills are forced to improve,” he says. “And it works really well with my schedule.” This year, 20-plus freshmen men in King East look to Jaylen for guidance on a variety of issues about college and life.
Deciding on a major
Jaylen came in as a sport management major because it seemed like a logical choice for a student-athlete. But it wasn’t for him. After being undecided for a bit, he settled on psychology. “I took some AP psychology courses in high school and liked them,” he says. Next semester, his courses will be all psychology, which will help him zero in on his career path. “I like all of it, really. I like knowing people. I like the clinical aspect. I love research, so we’ll see,” he says.
On the rare occasion when he has free time, Jaylen loves to read and play video games. But what he really gets him jazzed is playing acoustic and electric guitar, which he taught himself. “I picked it up when I was 14,” he says. “Most people say I’m good, but I don’t know. I like playing for friends or by myself. Mostly, it’s just a hobby.” At Heidelberg, he’s getting some professional pointers from Nathan Santos, from whom he’s taking lessons. If he keeps going, he could soon take his talent to the next level.
A tight circle
Friendship really means something to Jaylen, who is admittedly a private person. He intentionally keeps his circle of friends small – and very tight. Only certain people get to see the real Jaylen, but if you’re in that circle, it’s as close as you can get. “If I call you my friend, that has deep meaning to me and I put a lot of value on it,” he says.