Penn State photo by Mark Selders / Penn State co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks is reportedly in the process of being hired as Josh Heupel's defensive coordinator at Tennessee.

This story was updated on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, at 9:53 p.m. with additional information.

Tennessee reached up into Big Ten territory to find its long-awaited defensive coordinator.

Tim Banks, the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Penn State the past five seasons, was tabbed Monday to guide Josh Heupel's defense for the Volunteers. Banks received his first opportunity at coordinating a defense more than a decade ago from Butch Jones.

"Tim brings great energy, passion and experience to the Tennessee football family," Heupel said Monday night through a release. "His defenses are known for their aggressive style, as well as their multiple coverages and fronts. He's coached in big games and has a proven track record of success on the field and in recruiting. I know our student-athletes are going to enjoy playing for him.

"We are fortunate to have someone with Tim's experience and caliber leading our defense."

Banks is scheduled to make $1.3 million during the 2021 season, with his salary jumping to $1.4 million in 2022 and $1.5 million in 2023. Tennessee's defensive coordinator this past season, Derrick Ansley, earned $1 million.

Tennessee's known defensive staff now contains Banks and line coach Rodney Garner, while Heupel's first offensive staff will consist of coordinator and tight ends coach Alex Golesh, line coach Glen Elarbee, quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle, running backs coach Jerry Mack and receivers coach Kodi Burns. Heupel had not announced a single assistant before Monday but revealed his entire offensive staff in addition to the announcement of Banks.

"We look forward to bringing an exciting brand of up-tempo offense to Rocky Top," Heupel said. "I am thrilled about the offensive staff we have assembled. They understand what it takes to maximize our potential offensively and will give our student-athletes the proper path to success and development on and off the field.

"Their energy will be infectious with our current players and in recruiting as well."

Golesh, Elarbee and Halzle are following Heupel from UCF, while Burns spent the past five season's as Auburn's receivers coach and Mack the past three years as Rice's offensive coordinator. Golesh and Elarbee each will earn $750,000 this year, while Mack will make $400,000, Halzle $350,000 and Burns $300,000.

The Nittany Lions have won 11 games three times in the past five seasons with Banks on staff, participating in the Rose, Fiesta and Cotton bowls during those years. Penn State's 2019 defense ranked eighth nationally in fewest points allowed (16.0), fifth in rushing defense (95.0 yards per game) and led the country with 22 forced fumbles.

Safeties Lamont Wade and Garrett Taylor were honorable mention All-Big Ten honorees during the 2019 season, which Penn State capped with a Cotton Bowl triumph over Memphis. Penn State's starting safeties in 2017, Marcus Allen (a Big Ten first-team selection) and Troy Apke (honorable mention), were invited to the NFL combine.

Before joining James Franklin in Happy Valley, Banks spent four seasons at Illinois as the defensive coordinator and overseeing the secondary. In 2015, his final year with the Fighting Illini, the defense finished 15th nationally in fewest passing yards allowed (184.4).

Banks was Maryland's defensive backs coach in 2006 when he accepted the offer to be a defensive coordinator for the first time with Jones at Central Michigan, a three-year stint that yielded a 27-13 record and a pair of Mid-American Conference championships. He followed Jones to Cincinnati as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach and helped the Bearcats from a 4-8 season in 2010 to a 10-3 mark in 2011.

Jones remained at Cincinnati in 2012, when Banks had left for Illinois, and then Jones became Tennessee's head coach from 2013-17.

Banks is a former Central Michigan cornerback, leading the 1993 Chippewas with 105 tackles and serving as a co-captain of the 1994 team that won the MAC title. He graduated from CMU in 1995 with an industrial management degree.

The landing of Banks comes on the heels of Tennessee having discussions at least with Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers for the coordinator role.


Davis leaves Tide

Alabama fifth-year senior linebacker Ben Davis announced Monday that he will use the NCAA's extra year of eligibility elsewhere. Davis was the nation's No. 10 overall prospect in the 2016 signing class, but the 6-foot-4, 243-pounder from Gordo, Alabama never lived up to the five-star status.

Davis played in 21 of Alabama's 26 games the past two seasons, tallying seven tackles.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.