ELON, N.C. – Elon University football head coach Tony Trisiciani announced the additions of Arketa Banks and Dovonte Edwards to his coaching staff on Monday, May 3. Banks will work with the Phoenix cornerbacks while Edwards will serve as the program’s defensive pass game coordinator and safeties coach.
“We are excited about the addition of Arketa and Dovonte to our football staff,” said Trisciani. “They both grew up in North Carolina, were standout college players at Elon and NC State and have strong in-state recruiting ties. They are both relentless competitors and experienced coaches who will transition well into our program culture that is focused on attitude, effort and discipline.”
Banks returns to his alma mater after serving as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Western Carolina since 2019, his second stint with Catamounts. He also served as the running backs and tight end coach. In his first stint at Western Carolina from 2009-12, Banks also coached the running backs and tight ends.
Among Banks’ achievements during his first stint at Cullowhee was mentoring 2009 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in Catamount RB Michael Johnson. Three Catamount running backs collected SoCon All-Freshman honors including Johnson, Shaun Warren (2011) and Darius Ramsey (2012).
Banks also coached at NCAA Division II powerhouse Lenoir-Rhyne for five seasons from 2013-17 where he was the slotbacks coach in 2013-2014 and wide receivers’ coach from 2015-17. Under his tutelage during the 2014 season, the Bears’ slotbacks rushed for a school and D-II national-record 416.2 yards per game.
He earned his first collegiate coaching position at Brevard College in 2008 coaching the defensive secondary and was the program’s recruiting coordinator.
A 2003 graduate of Elon, Banks was a four-year letter and an All-Big South Conference performer on the football gridiron, collecting second-team plaudits as a receiver and a kick returner in 2002. During his career with the then option-oriented Phoenix between 1999 and 2002, Banks helped establish the program as one of the top independents in NCAA Division FCS before Elon’s first season in the Big South in 2002, receiving team MVP honors in 2001 after catching 22 passes for an average of 24.5 yards per reception with six touchdowns.
Going into his senior year at Elon, The Sports Network (now STATS FCS) deemed Banks the “fifth-best kick returner” in NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) football after earning All-Independent as a return specialist in 2001. During his career, he led Elon in receiving from 2000-2002, amassing 1,371 yards on 54 catches with 17 receiving touchdowns.
“I have had a relationship with Arketa and followed his coaching career over the years,” said Trisciani. “I was impressed with his ability to develop relationships in the recruiting process. We have crossed paths several times recruiting the top players in North Carolina and Coach Banks has always been in the mix. He has a reputation of being a great recruiter and detailed teacher who forms strong relationships with his players. He is passionate about Elon University and our football program and we are thrilled to welcome him and his family back to Elon.”
Edwards arrives from North Carolina Central where he was the defensive pass game coordinator and defensive backs coach since 2019. In 2019, he helped the Eagles post the 11th-best pass defense in the FCS while ranking 18th in the country in interceptions. He also tutored three All-MEAC defensive backs including AFCA All-American Bryan Mills, who was also a first team All-MEAC and a Reese’s Senior Bowl selectee. Mills also was named the STATS National Defensive Player of the Week that season.
“Dovonte Edwards brings valuable experience as a defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and former NFL player to our defensive staff,” said Trisciani. “He has been coaching coverage schemes that are similar to our style of defense and I was impressed with the job he did with a young secondary and Seattle Seahawks signee Bryan Mills at NC Central.”
Prior to NC Central, Edwards also spent two seasons at Morehead State as the defensive coordinator in 2018, co-special teams coordinator in 2017 while also coaching the defensive backs and serving as the pro liaison. As the defensive coordinator, he helped improved the Eagles’ defense from last to fourth in the conference while also leading his secondary to rank third in the conference pass defense while having three of his defensive backs ranked at the top of the league on passes defensed. He has also served as a defensive analyst/quality control coach at Furman University (2016).
Edwards was the defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator at Kentucky Christian University in 2014 before being elevated to associate head coach and defensive coordinator in 2015. In 2014, he helped KCU rank in the top-10 in the NAIA in all major passing defense categories while guiding Mike Ritter to USA All-American Honors and Emmett Keys to USA Freshman All-American accolades. He also coached Aaron Cooper to earning Mid-South Conference Defensive Player of the Year and AFCA All-American accolades.
Edwards played five years in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants and Detroit Lions. He also played for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. In his rookie season in 2005, he returned one of Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre’s passes for a touchdown on Monday Night Football.
Edwards played collegiately at North Carolina State University, where he initially lined up as a top wide receiver target for quarterback Phillip Rivers. He later moved to cornerback during his final two seasons after recording starts on both offense and defense. He was named the team’s Most Outstanding Defensive Back and voted the Most Versatile Athlete following his senior season at NC State and played in the Hula Bowl in Hawaii in 2005. He also played on the Wolfpack basketball team.
Edwards earned his bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation and tourism management, with emphasis in sport management, from NC State in 2012. He has also participated in the NFL Scouting Academy, the NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy and the NFL Career Transition Program.
“Dovonte has a great plan and progression for developing skills and teaching coverage concepts,” said Trisciani. “He played the game at the highest level and lived a dream that many of our players have. His career was cut short due to injuries, but he knows what it takes to get there and he made plays on the biggest stage. We have a nice mix of experience and young talent in our secondary and I look forward to Coach Edwards serving as a mentor and developing their skills.”