Banks set to join football coaching staff at SHS

Fletcher Cox, left, and Johnthan Banks
Staff Writer

An All-American, Jim Thorpe Award Winner and National Football League cornerback will soon be roaming the sidelines at Starkville High School.

SHS head football coach Chris Jones confirmed to the Starkville Daily News on Friday afternoon that former Mississippi State and East Webster standout Johnthan Banks will be joining his staff as cornerbacks coach. The news comes after Banks decided to retire from football this fall and focus on his family and life after playing the sport that he loves.

Banks joins a coaching staff full of former players from the Division 1 level that are making their way up the coaching ranks.

“We met with my defensive coordinator (Kevie Thompson) and we all speak the same language,” Jones said. “He’s a local guy who knows football and will be a hands on guy. The kids are going to listen to him because he’s been there. Whatever Johnthan Banks says goes.”

The decision to become a coach has been weighing on Banks’ mind for some time. Jones toyed with the him a bit during the summer as he hosted former Bulldogs Banks, Taveze Calhoun and Gabe Jackson on campus for workouts.

Two weeks ago, Jones invited Banks to speak to the student athletes at the annual athletic banquet. It was there where the idea of actually coaching came to fruition. The wheels were in motion quickly and the two agreed that it would be a good deal for everyone involved.

“I think at the end of the day it’s beneficial for all parties,” Jones said. “He’s getting started in his second phase of his career. He’s so passionate about the kids. Some of these kids are just like him and grew up under similar circumstances. It’s bigger than football.”

Banks was a four-year starter at Mississippi State after a productive multi-sport career in Cumberland. He had 221 career tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and an MSU record-tying 16 interceptions. He became an All-American as a Bulldog during his senior season when he won the Thorpe Award for the nation’s top defensive back.

He was drafted in the second round of the 2013 National Football League Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played four seasons in Florida. Over the last two seasons, Banks played for Detroit, Chicago and Houston before deciding to hang up the cleats. He finished his NFL career with 146 tackles, 17 pass deflections and seven interceptions in six seasons.

Jones was in a similar situation has Banks years ago looking for a purpose after his football career. His high school coach M.C. Miller gave him a chance at Louisville and he worked his way up before ultimately becoming a head coach.
The hire has not been made official and won’t be until August when paperwork is finalized by the school board.