Former Illini co-defensive coordinator Banks already making impact at Penn State


Daily Illini FIle Photo

Illinois coaches Mike Ward (left), Tim Banks (center) and Bill Cubit converse on the field during Saturday’s game against Nebraska at Memorial Stadium. Illinois won 14-13.

By Cole Henke, Staff Writer

The Illinois football coaching staff has only one remaining member from the 2015 season, with eight departing.

Former co-defensive coordinator and safeties job Tim Banks left Illinois after the conclusion of the 2015 season, which on paper, was the best of his four seasons at Illinois. Behind production of his All-Big Ten Honorable Mention safety Clayton Fejedelem, Banks’ secondary finished 15th nationally in passing yards allowed.

One month after leaving the Illini, Banks took the same position at Penn State.

“I have known Tim for a long time, so there is a trust there already,” Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin said. “Whenever you are able to go out and hire a former coordinator in the Big Ten to come in and be an assistant, he is going to bring value. When you are an assistant you feel like you know what you would do if you were a coordinator, and (vice versa). But until you have been in both positions, like Banks, it is hard to really know.”

Franklin worked with Banks when both coached at the University of Maryland from 2001 to 2005.

Banks is now working alongside associate head coach and defensive coordinator Brent Pry. Pry recommended Banks for the position after the interview process, according to Franklin. The two will work in a similar system to the one Banks shared with defensive coordinator Mike Phair at Illinois. Pry will focus on the defensive line, while Banks on the secondary.

Linebacker Brandon Bell said it did not take long for Banks to make his presence known on the practice field.

“He didn’t just jump out and start yelling at people right away, but he wasn’t shy at all, and I really liked that about him,” Bell said. “He let the safeties and the DBs know what kind of guy he was and what he wanted this team to be. He didn’t come to Penn State to coach a mediocre team.”

With Penn State in the Big Ten East where national powerhouses like Michigan St., Michigan and Ohio State reign, Bell said Banks makes it known that he isn’t afraid of the big names on the schedule, and he has already started to see that confidence trickle down to the Nittany Lions’ secondary.

When Franklin gave his opening statement at Monday’s Big Ten Media Day, he was hopeful. This is Franklin’s first season as the Nittany Lions’ head coach without NCAA sanctions from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

“After all the hard work and preparation that they’ve put in, there’s an anticipation and there’s a confidence right now,” Franklin said. “With everything that we’ve been through and the challenges that we’ve been through over the last couple of years, I feel great about our locker room right now.”

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