Flowery Branch, GA (Sports Network) - The Atlanta Falcons are giving linebacker Brian Banks a chance.
Banks, who served more than five years in prison after being wrongly accused and convicted of raping a female classmate at Poly Tech High School in Long Beach, California, signed with the Falcons on Wednesday.
He was later exonerated after the woman involved in the case recanted her claim.
"I want to thank the Atlanta Falcons. The entire organization for this opportunity. This is beyond me," said Banks on a conference call.
Prior to his arrest and conviction, Banks was a star high school football player who had a verbal commitment to USC.
Banks received tryouts with the Seattle Seahawks, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs last season. He eventually took part in Seattle's minicamp last June.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Banks ended up spending the 2012 season with Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, appearing in two games before the UFL suspended its season in October.
"We are pleased to have Brian join our team," said Falcons 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."