The wait may finally be over.
According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports on Monday, Tennessee is finalizing a deal with former Penn State safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks to become the Vols’ next defensive coordinator.
Sources: Tennessee is finalizing a deal to hire Penn State co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks as the school’s new DC. Banks has extensive DC experience, including at Illinois, Cincinnati and Central Michigan.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) February 15, 2021
Banks has been with Penn State since he joined in 2016, all of those under the same title of safeties coach and co-DC.
Tim Banks has also worked under Nittany Lions defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry each year after they both joined the Penn State staff at the same time.
According to the official Penn State Football website, “Banks helped run a defense that ranked fifth nationally against the run (95.0) and eighth in scoring (16.0) in 2019. The Nittany Lions additionally led the nation in forced fumbles (22) and were tied for the third-fewest touchdown passes allowed (10).
Seeing that Banks also developed the safeties, the forced fumbles and touchdown passes scored against specifically stand out.
Penn State has done well in the national total defense rankings during Banks’ tenure, finishing with three Top-25 total defensive finishes in his five years. The Nittany Lions landed at No. 7 in 2017, No. 23 in 2018, and No. 8 in 2019.
One thing that Tim Banks doesn’t lack experience in is being around the defensive coordinator position. Prior to Penn State, Banks was also a co-defensive coordinator at Illinois from 2011-2015, a co-defensive coordinator at Cincinnatti from 2010-2011, and the Central Michigan defensive coordinator from 2007-2009.
Tim Banks. I’m in.
— Houston Kress (@VolRumorMill) February 15, 2021
Banks was the DC for former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones during his tenure at Central Michigan and followed Jones to Cincinnati for a year before departing for Illinois.
With significantly more movement on the offensive side of the coaching staff through Josh Heupel’s first few weeks, finally locking down a defensive coordinator has to be a sigh of relief for Heupel, Danny White, and company.
Rodney Garner has reportedly already signed on to be the defensive line coach, so Banks will have a guy with their boots on the ground in SEC territory from the jump, which will especially help in recruiting.
According to 247Sports, Banks only has nine credited four-star recruits to his name, which isn’t very much in comparison to someone like Garner, who has 55 to his name.
But ultimately, that’s another reason why this hire likely makes sense in the mind of the Vols. While Banks has never been considered an elite recruiter, Tennessee has already brought in a coach who does boast an elite title in the world of recruiting, and will likely try to add other strong recruiters as well.
The idea here for Tennessee is that Banks will build a defense that Garner and others can easily sell to recruits.
But even if Banks might not be one of the most efficient recruiters, he has certainly proven that he can develop talent at the highest collegiate level and send prospects to the NFL.
The interesting question now is who exactly those coaches joining Banks will be.
With only Garner as the sole assistant on board, yet former Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele still in the building and on the recruiting trail for Tennessee, all focus will now shift to the vacant assistant staff positions and getting everything ready for the upcoming season.
Stay tuned to Fox Sports Knoxville for all the latest news on the Tennessee football team.