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December 14, 2012According to several published reports, Virginia has hired UTEP's Jeff Banks to be the team's special teams coordinator and running backs coach.
Banks, a 1998 graduate of Washington State, had been at UTEP since 2003 where he coached running backs and was special teams coordinator.
According to the Elpaso Times, new UTEP head coach Sean Kugler had planned to retain Banks before he accepted the position at UVa.
From his bio on UTEP's official website: The Miners had the top special teams unit in Conference USA statistically in 2011, ranking first in the league in punting (40.5 avg.), second in kickoff returns (26.3 avg.), third in kickoff coverage (44.4 avg.) and seventh in punt returns (10.0 avg.). UTEP rated fourth nationally in kickoff returns and sixth in net punting.
Other special teams highlights for the Miners last season included Ian Campbell ranking fourth in the FBS in punting (46.1 avg.), and Vernon Frazier rating seventh in kickoff returns (30.5 avg.). UTEP blocked three punts, and did not have a punt blocked for the third consecutive year. The Miners also executed successful fake kicks for first downs in road games against NM State, USF and UCF.
Over the last two years Banks coached TCU transfer Joe Banyard, who led the team with a combined 1,455 rushing yards while scoring 14 touchdowns. Another Miner running back, Leilyon Myers, reached the end zone 18 times over the last two seasons in his role as a short-yardage specialist.
During his time in the Sun City, Banks has also aided in the development of Donald Buckram, who broke a UTEP single-season rushing record that had stood for over 60 years in 2009. Buckram went over the century mark in eight of 12 games en route to tallying 1,594 yards -- eclipsing the previous school standard of 1,546 yards, established by Fred Wendt in 1948. Buckram ranked third nationally in scoring (10.5 ppg) and fourth in rushing yards per game (132.8), while winning the Conference USA individual rushing title. He was one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award.
Banks also coached Greg Hiett, who rated 26th in the country in punting in 2009 to earn honorable mention All-Conference honors.
The Miners averaged 122 yards rushing per game in 2008 behind a balanced attack. Senior Terrell Jackson led the way by rushing for 451 yards. Additionally, punter Kyle Petersen averaged 43.0 yards per attempt to garner honorable mention all-league accolades.
Banks coached Marcus Thomas from 2004-07, who ended his stellar career as the Miners' fifth all-time leading rusher with 2,615 yards.
Thomas is also third in school history in rushing touchdowns (26), fourth in 100-yard games (11) and seventh in all-purpose yards (3,660). He put together a banner senior campaign in 2007, ranking ninth nationally in scoring (9.8 ppg) and 26th in rushing (106 ypg). Thomas' 16 rushing TDs are tied for the third-top seasonal total in school annals. He participated in two postseason all-star games, the East-West Shrine Game and the Hula Bowl.
Banks coached a pair of 500-yard running backs in 2005. Late in the season, Thomas set a school record by rushing for 100 yards in four straight games. He ended the year with a team-leading 791 yards on 149 carries. Tyler Ebell, who began the year as the starting tailback before having his season cut short due to injury, still managed to earn third team All-Conference honors. He rushed for 536 yards, moving over the 2,000-yard mark for his career.
Banks' first season coaching the Miner running backs and punters was quite a success. He mentored Bryce Benekos, who finished seventh in the nation in punting, as well as Howard Jackson, who was 25th in the country in rushing. Both players earned first team All-WAC honors under Banks' tutelage. Jackson ended his career as UTEP's second all-time leading rusher with 3,466 yards. Both Benekos and Jackson signed NFL free agent contracts at season's end.
Banks had similar coaching assignments at Idaho State from 2001-03. With Banks on staff, Idaho State won a Big Sky Championship and had back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time in 77 years. Banks tutored three All-Conference players in 2003 and helped running back Isaac Mitchell become the all-time touchdown leader in Idaho State history. Mitchell rushed for 1,851 yards from 2002-03.
In his three seasons at Idaho State, Banks was part of a Bengal offense that averaged over 400 yards and 28 points per game. Idaho State ranked in the top-16 nationally in total offense each of his three seasons.
Banks also tutored Eddie Johnson, who led Division I-AA in punting in 2001 and was taken in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft.
Banks began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Mike Price at Washington State, mentoring the Cougars' kickers and punters from 1999-00. He supervised the progression of Kareem Anderson and Rian Lindell, who later enjoyed stops in the NFL. Lindell is currently with the Buffalo Bills.
A two-year letterwinner as a punter at Washington State, Banks posted a 42.8-yard average as a junior and 43.4 as a senior. He led the Pac-10 in punting as a senior and registered a 53.0 average versus Boise State, earning him the national AT&T Long Distance Award for the week. He was selected to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
He started his collegiate career at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., where he was a first team All-Conference kicker and punter. Banks played his prep ball at Bishop Amat High School in La Puente, Calif. He lettered in soccer as well as football. He was a member of Bishop Amat's state championship team, going 51-for-51 on extra point attempts.
He and his wife, Kori, have a daughter, Sydnei, and two sons, Gage and Tanner.