KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks is one of eight Southeastern Conference coaches who have been nominated for the Broyles Award, presented annually since 1996 to college football’s top assistant coach.
In his first season with the Volunteers, Banks has played a pivotal role in the program’s resurgence despite a roster with limited depth and several injuries. At 5-5 and coming off games against four consecutive top-20 opponents, Banks and Tennessee are vying for bowl eligibility as they face South Alabama and Vanderbilt in consecutive weeks.
Banks is one of six SEC defensive coordinators announced as Broyles Award nominees, joining Alabama’s Pete Golding, Mississippi State’s Zach Arnett, Texas A&M’s Mike Elko, Georgia’s Dan Lanning and South Carolina’s Clayton White. The other two SEC assistants on the list are on the offensive side of the ball.
Banks’ unit has racked up 76 tackles for loss on the season, a mark that ranks top 10 nationally and second in the SEC. His attacking defense has also forced eight turnovers in conference play, which ranks in the top half of the SEC. A total of 18 of the team’s 26 sacks on the year have come during SEC play, which ranks fourth in the league. It’s a significant spike from a team that produced 55 tackles for loss and 20 sacks a year ago.
The Volunteers are ranked sixth in the SEC in fewest yards allowed per play at 5.41. That’s an improvement from a season ago in which Tennessee issued 5.83 yards per play. The Vols have produced two defensive touchdowns this season on interceptions from cornerback Alontae Taylor and linebacker Solon Page III. That tally ranks in the top 16 nationally and fifth in the SEC.
Individually, Banks and the staff have seen several players enjoy the best seasons of their careers. Fifth-year senior defensive back Theo Jackson is tied for the SEC lead in pass breakups with 10, while senior defensive lineman Matthew Butler has logged a career-best 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in 562 snaps on the year.
Junior linebacker Jeremy Banks leads the team in tackles with 89, which ranks third in the SEC. He is also tops on the squad in tackles for loss with nine. Junior safety Jaylen McCollough is tied for fourth in the SEC in interceptions with four, while Taylor has developed into one of the premier NFL cornerback prospects in the country.
Banks oversees an experienced defensive staff that includes defensive line coach Rodney Garner, outside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler, secondary coach Willie Martinez and linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary. The group owns over a combined 50 years of SEC experience.
Banks is in his 15th season as an FBS defensive coordinator. He came to Tennessee after five successful seasons guiding top 25 units at Penn State as the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. Prior to Penn State, Banks was the defensive coordinator at Illinois (2012-15), Cincinnati (2010-11) and his alma mater of Central Michigan (2007-09).