A native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Niekamp and his wife, Tracy, have three children -- Tye Dalton, Dexter Kole and Brooke Ryan.
Former Illinois State all-conference defensive back Mike Banks begins his second season as an assistant coach in 2019.
Prior to joining the staff full time, Banks worked the previous two seasons with the ISU football staff as a graduate manager, while working towards completion of his master’s degree. In his new role, Banks will work with the Redbird defensive backs.
Banks was a four-year letterwinner for the Redbirds (2011-14) as a cornerback and started all 50 career games he played in. A 2014 All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Second-Team selection and MVFC All-Academic Team honorable-mention selection, Banks was instrumental in the Redbirds’ journey to the FCS National Championship game and ranked 17th in the FCS that season with 19 passes defended. He ranks No. 3 all-time at ISU in career passes defended with 46.
In his final year with the Redbirds, Banks ranked third on the team with a career-high 93 tackles, broke up 17 passes and intercepted two more to help ISU win its first MVFC title since 1999. The University Park, Illinois, native had one of the best games of his career, with 10 tackles, a sack, two tackles-for-loss and a game-sealing fourth-down stop in the semifinal win at New Hampshire.
As a sophomore, Banks earned All-MVFC Honorable Mention honors in 2012 after ranking second in the MVFC with 12 passes defended. He started all 13 games that season, while helping the Redbird advance to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2006 and a second-round playoff win at Appalachian State. He began his career as a true freshman in 2011 as a member of the MVFC All-Newcomer Team, after he started all 11 games at cornerback and ranked fourth on the team with 54 total tackles.
Banks received his bachelor’s degree in health education from Illinois State in December 2015 and is scheduled to receive his master’s degree in psychology of sport and physical activity from Illinois State in May 2018.
Cody Deti | Assistant Coach/Secondary
Cody Deti begins his ninth season with the Illinois State football coaching staff in 2019 and will continue to oversee the Redbird secondary.
During the 2018 season, Deti's secondary helped the Redbirds post the second-best scoring defensive in the MVFC (20.0) and the second-best total defense (309.8 ypg) behind eventual national champion North Dakota State. Safety Luther Kirk (1st team) and cornerback Devin Taylor (2nd team) both earned All-MVFC honors, as ISU fielded one of the better defensive back units in the league.
During his time working with the Redbird defensive backs, Deti helped safety Ben Ericksen earn All-America honors and Mike Banks and Dontae McCoy become All-MVFC selections. His most recent success was Davontae Harris, who was named a first-team All-American and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ericksen was named a Third-Team All-America selection by The Sports Network and the Associated Press and selected to the College Sporting News 2012 Fabulous Fifty FCS All-America Team. That same season, Ericksen earned All-MVFC First-Team honors, after he finished the season ranked No. 4 in the country in interceptions per game and led the MVFC with seven.
In 2014, Banks ended his illustrious career with the Redbirds and is one of the most durable players in ISU history, having started every game of his career (50 total). He earned All-MVFC Second-Team honors as a cornerback and finished his career with the third-most passes defended in ISU history (46).
While Banks patrolled the cornerback position, senior captain Dontae McCoy anchored the Redbird defense from the safety spot. McCoy earned All-MVFC Honorable Mention honors, after recording 67 tackles and breaking up four passes in his final season at ISU in 2014.
Deti helped the Redbird secondary improve dramatically in his first season with ISU in 2011. The Redbird defense was ranked No. 9 in the country, after finishing No. 112 the previous year, and the Redbird secondary improved 22 spots on the national list in pass efficiency defense.
Much of that was due to the leadership of senior Otis Merrill and the emergence of Banks. Merrill was an All-MVFC Second Team selection at defensive back, after starting the final 10 games of the season and recording 41 tackles and an interception. Banks started all 11 games as a true freshman and was named to the MVFC All-Newcomer Team at defensive back.
Deti came to Illinois State after serving as the defensive coordinator for head coach Scott Downing for five seasons at Northern Colorado, a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program out of the Big Sky Conference.
Deti’s defense improved every season, as the 2009 team allowed 20 yards less per game than 2008 and the 2008 team allowed almost 100 yards less per game than 2007. Prior to his stint at Northern Colorado, Deti spent three seasons on head coach Danny Hope’s staff at Eastern Kentucky, where he worked with the defensive secondary and helped the Colonels to a 7-4 record and 7-1 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2005.
Prior to coaching at Eastern Kentucky, Deti spent three seasons at Princeton. He joined the Tigers staff in 2000, serving as the defensive assistant. In 2001, he moved to the offensive side of the ball, coaching tight ends, and spent his final season at Princeton as the wide receivers coach.
From 1997-99, Deti was a graduate assistant coach at Purdue, where he coached alongside Brock Spack who served as the team’s defensive coordinator. In his time with the Boilermakers, the team made two appearances in the Alamo Bowl and one in the Outback Bowl.
Deti played defensive back at Wyoming (1992-93), while Downing was the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, before his career was cut short by an injury. He stayed active with the program by serving as a student assistant coach from 1994-96 and was part of the 1996 WAC Championship squad. Deti comes from a long line of football coaches, as his grandfather John was the head coach at Laramie High School for 33 years and his father John was the head coach at Laramie for 26 years.
Deti earned his bachelor’s degree in health science from Wyoming in 1997 and his master’s degree in history and philosophy of sport from Purdue in 1999.
He resides in Normal, Ill., with his wife, Megan, and their children, Samuel, Maddisyn and Emma.
Harold Etheridge | Assistant Coach/Offensive Line
Harold Etheridge returns to mentor the Illinois State offensive line for a second season in 2019.
Etheridge's offensive line unit, anchored by 2018 HERO Sports FCS Sophomore All-America First-Team selection and All-Missouri Valley Conference Second-Team pick Drew Himmelman, was a critical part in making ISU the third-best scoring offense in the conference. The offensive line led the way for James Robinson, who rushed for a league-leading 1,290 yards with 12 touchdowns and earned multiple All-America honors following the season.
A veteran coach with more than two decades of experience, Etheridge returned to Normal prior to the 2018 season after previously spending nine seasons as the offensive line coach for the Redbirds in the late 1990s. During that time, Etheridge helped the Redbirds earn a spot in the NCAA FCS playoffs in 1998, before winning the Gateway Conference title and reaching the FCS semifinal game in 1999. In 2000, he moved with former ISU head coach Todd Berry to Army and coached the Black Knights’ offensive line for four seasons.
Most recently, Etheridge spent four seasons at Georgia State after joining head coach Trent Miles’ coaching staff in 2013 as the offensive line coach and assistant head coach. Etheridge previously worked with Miles for three seasons at Indiana State (2010-12), helping the Sycamores post three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the 1960s.
While at Georgia State, Etheridge’s offensive front blocked for record-setting quarterback Nick Arbuckle the last two seasons, helping him lead the Sun Belt Conference in passing and rank in the top 15 nationally both years. Etheridge also helped develop offensive tackle Ulrick John into a NFL prospect. John was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
At Indiana State, Etheridge served as Miles’ offensive coordinator the last two years and his offensive line coach for three seasons. In two years as the Sycamores’ offensive coordinator, Etheridge produced one of the nation’s top rushers in running back Shakir Bell. A first-team All-American as a sophomore in 2011, Bell led the nation in rushing with 151.8 yards per game and tied for second in voting for the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the FCS. In 2012, Bell ranked sixth nationally in rushing (134.1 ypg) while earning second-team All-America honors.
Before going to Indiana State, Etheridge spent the previous two years coaching the offensive line at Washington State (2008-09) and one year in the same role at Northern Illinois (2007). During a three-year stint as the offensive line coach at North Texas (2004-06), Etheridge produced an offensive line that blocked for the nation’s leading rusher in 2004 in Jamario Thomas, who ran for 180.1 yards per game. The Mean Green won the Sun Belt Conference title and earned a berth in the New Orleans Bowl.
Etheridge began his coaching career in the high school ranks, first at Gallup (N.M.) High School (1983-86) and then Ballard (Ky.) High School (1987-88). From there, he moved to a collegiate position at Kentucky, serving as a graduate assistant working with offensive tackles in 1989-90. He worked under GSU’s first head coach Bill Curry in his second season at UK.
A native of Gallup, N.M., Etheridge was a four-year starting offensive guard for Western New Mexico (1979-82). He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from the school in 1982. Etheridge, who in 2001 published a book entitled “Coaching the Front Liners,” and his wife, Jeanne, are the parents of twins, Clayton and Eliza.
Khenon Hall | Assistant Coach/Running Backs
Former Redbird defensive back Khenon Hall is in his sixth season at Illinois State, and his second working with the team’s running backs.
In 2018, Hall helped tailback James Robinson reach new heights and gain national notice. Under his tutelage, Robinson was named a STATS FCS Walter Payton Award finalist and an All-American from multiple agencies. The All-Missouri Valley Football Conference First-Team selection led the conference with 1,290 rushing yards, and tied for second in the league with 12 rushing touchdowns.
Hall served as a mentor for 2014 senior captain Dontae McCoy, who anchored the Redbird defense from the safety spot. McCoy earned All-MVFC Honorable Mention honors in his final season, after recording 67 tackles and breaking up four passes in his final season at ISU in 2014. He also helped Alec Kocour earn MVFC honorable mention honors, despite playing in just nine games due to an injury.
Hall returned to Illinois State, after serving as a graduate assistant at New Mexico working with defensive backs during the 2011-12 season. Prior to that, Hall spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons as a student assistant at Illinois State and assisted with the Redbirds’ secondary and defensive line.
He started six games for Illinois State in 2008, before suffering a career-ending neck injury. He would then go on to earn his degree from Illinois State in University Studies in 2010.
Prior to his playing career at ISU, Hall was rated as a two-star junior-college recruit by Rivals.com. While at Trinity Valley Community College, he ranked second on the team in 2007 with 70 tackles, including a team-high 66 solo stops, in eight games of action. In addition, he added four tackles-for-loss and a quarterback sack and was named to the 2006 All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference Honorable Mention team.
Hall is married to the former Jasmine Harris of Normal, Ill. The couple has three children: Jazlyn, Khenon Jr., and Khaydon.
Brian Hendricks | Assistant Coach/Defensive Line
Brian Hendricks begins his second season as the Illinois State defensive line coach in 2019.
The Redbird defensive line aided ISU in having the second-best scoring defensive in the MVFC (20.0) and the second-best total defense (309.8 ypg) in the conference behind eventual national champion North Dakota State. Hendricks also mentored Romeo McKnight, who was named a HERO Sports FCS Sophomore All-American and a MVFC All-Newcomer Team selection in his first season. Freshman noseguard John Ridgeway also earned MVFC All-Newcomer Team honors, creating a promising young defensive front for the Redbirds.
Hendricks came to Illinois State after serving as an assistant coach at Montana for three seasons. There, he worked alongside ISU defensive coordinator Travis Niekamp, who will now coach the inside linebackers for the Redbirds.
The Burlington, Colorado, native spent the last two seasons as the Grizzlies’ defensive line coach, after serving as the defensive ends coach in his first season at Montana in 2015. In Hendricks’ first year at UM coaching the defensive ends, he coached the 2015 STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year Tyrone Holmes to a national-best 18 sacks.
Before arriving at Montana, Hendricks was an assistant coach for Griz mentor Bob Stitt at the Colorado School of Mines working with the defensive line. In 2014, Mines had an overall record of 10-2 and tied for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title with an 8-1 league mark. The Orediggers participated in the NCAA playoffs, and their 10-2 record was the 13th winning season in 15 years for Coach Stitt, and also added to the program’s record with an eighth consecutive winning season.
With Hendricks coaching the defensive front, the Orediggers’ defense ranked second in the RMAC in scoring defense (23.4 pts/game), first in the RMAC and 36th in DII in rush defense (124.9) and first in the RMAC and 12th in DII in sacks (38). Hendricks helped an Orediggers defense in 2013 that ranked first in the RMAC and 7th in DII in scoring defense (17.0 pts/game). He joined Stitt’s staff in 2013, following a short stint as a defensive graduate assistant at Colorado State.
During his collegiate playing career, Hendricks was a four-year letterman at inside linebacker at Wyoming from 2008-2011. He earned a pair of Second-Team All-Mountain West accolades and led the team in tackles his sophomore and senior seasons. He served as a team captain during his junior and senior campaigns and was named the team’s most valuable linebacker following his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Hendricks also holds the Wyoming single-game record for most tackles (23), which was also the best single-game performance in the nation in 2009, and finished his career as the 12th leading tackler in Wyoming history. Additionally, Hendricks served on the UW Leadership Council and earned an invitation to the 2012 Washington Redskins mini-camp.
Hendricks, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Wyoming in 2011, and was married this summer to his wife, Talia.
Ghaali Muhammad-Lankford | Assistant Coach/Wide Receivers
Ghaali Muhammad-Lankford is in his first season as the Illinois State wide receivers coach.
Muhammad-Lankford comes to Normal after completing his third year as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Southeast Missouri. He helped guide the Redhawks to a school record nine wins and the second round of the 2018 FCS playoffs, where they were defeated by No. 2 Weber State.
As the running backs coach, Muhammad-Lankford mentored Marquis Terry who earned multiple All-America honors in 2018. Terry was the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year, after leading the league in rushing yards (1,229), rushing touchdowns (14) and rushing yards per game (94.5). He ran for over 100 yards a league-high six times with an OVC and school record 311 at Southern Illinois (Sept. 15).
Muhammad-Lankford joined Southeast’s staff in February of 2016, after previously working as an offensive graduate assistant at Missouri, where he assisted then-wide receivers coach Pat Washington with all daily coaching responsibilities. Muhammad-Lankford helped create game plan ideas for weekly opponents and assisted with recruiting among other duties.
Before Missouri, Muhammad-Lankford helped coach the running backs at Wyoming in the same capacity during the 2013 campaign. He coached the kick returners, coordinated game plans for the running backs, assisted with all special teams, created scouting reports and managed the scout teams during practices. In addition, Muhammad-Lankford was in charge of the running back meetings, drills and signaling to running backs on game day.
A native of St. Joseph, Muhammad-Lankford played four years (2009-2012) at Wyoming. He was the Cowboys leading rusher before suffering a season-ending injury in 2011. A year later, Muhammad-Lankford led Wyoming with 106 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and four fumble recoveries as a linebacker his senior season.
He received his undergraduate degree in communications at Wyoming in 2013 and is currently working on his master’s in positive coaching. He and his wife, Taryn, have one son, Eliyaas.
Kye Stewart | Assistant Coach/Outside Linebackers
Former Illinois State All-American linebacker Kye Stewart begins his second season as the team’s outside linebackers coach in 2019.
Stewart's outside linebackers aided the Redbirds in posting the second-best scoring defensive in the MVFC (20.0) and the second-best total defense (309.8 ypg) in the conference behind eventual national champion North Dakota State.
Stewart returned to Illinois State by way of Alcorn State, where he spent two seasons with the Braves as their defensive line coach.
The Braves improved to No. 2 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in pass efficiency defense (114.9) and No. 3 in scoring defense (21.8 ppg) and rushing defense (133.1 ypg) in 2017. The Braves won their fourth-consecutive SWAC East Division title and became the first team in the history of the league to play in four consecutive SWAC Championship games.
Prior to his move to Alcorn State, Stewart worked for three seasons as a member of the Memphis football coaching staff, serving in the role as a graduate assistant coach on the defensive side of the football. He was mentored by head coach Justin Fuente, who was offensive coordinator at ISU during Stewart’s career, and Galen Scott, who was his defensive coordinator while playing for the Redbirds.
In 2014, Memphis ranked 11th in FBS Football in scoring defense, allowing just 195 points per game. The Tigers only gave up 349 yards a game, which ranked 27th in the nation. Memphis’ 106.31 defensive pass efficiency rating led the American Athletic Conference and ranked eighth nationally while the Tigers’ 121.5 rushing defense average was 19th nationally. Memphis won the American Athletic Conference championship, the team's first league title since 1971, and posted a 10-3 record en route to a Miami Beach Bowl title. In Stewart's first season as a member of the staff in 2013, Memphis' defense ranked 39th nationally in total defense (370.7 ypg allowed) and 12th against the run (116.3 ypg allowed).
Stewart joined the Memphis staff after playing four seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders (2009-11) and the Edmonton Eskimos (2012). Stewart, who played linebacker, was a member a Saskatchewan team which advanced to the Grey Cup Finals both in 2009 and 2010.
Stewart played in the CFL after a four-year playing career at Illinois State. At Illinois State, Stewart was a two-time All-Gateway Conference player who concluded his playing career as an All-American in 2007. That same season, he finished fourth in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is annually given to the Defensive Player of the Year in NCAA FCS football. ISU advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs during junior season in 2006.
The Nashville, Tennessee, native graduated from ISU in 2008 with a degree in communications and a minor in business administration.
C.J. Irvin | Assistant Coach/Tight Ends, H-Backs
Another familiar face returns to the Illinois State football coaching staff, as head coach Brock Spack has announced the hiring of former Redbird offensive lineman and student assistant coach C.J. Irvin as the team’s newest assistant coach.
In his new role, Irvin will work with the team’s tight ends and h-backs. He returns to Illinois State after spending the 2018 season with the Wisconsin football program, serving in a quality control role with the Badgers' offensive line.
Irvin came to UW after spending the 2017 season as a graduate assistant at Texas, where he worked with the Longhorns' offensive line. He held a similar position at Houston for the 2016 season and also served as interim offensive line coach for the Cougars' matchup with San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
His coaching career began as a student assistant at Illinois State, a role he filled for two seasons after suffering foot injuries that ended his playing career for the Redbirds. He helped Illinois State reach the FCS National Championship game in 2014 and the FCS quarterfinals in 2015.
Irvin, who received the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Commissioners Academic Excellence Award, graduated from Illinois State in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology/physical education. He and his fiancée, Caitlin Murray, reside in Bloomington.
Alicia Mays | Director of Football Operations
Alicia Mays is in her third season at Illinois State as Director of Football Operations. In her role, Mays is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the program, handling team logistics, team schedules, team travel, practice preparation, overseeing the football budget as well as supervising the Redbirds’ recruiting efforts and support staff.
Prior to her move to Illinois State, Mays served as the Kansas softball program’s first director of operations beginning in 2012. Mays was a collegiate standout on the softball diamond at Purdue and went on to work for Purdue Sports Properties, prior to working with the Purdue softball team as the gameday operations manager in 2011 before joining the Kansas Staff.
Mays graduated from Purdue with a degree in organizational leadership and supervision in 2009 and received her master’s degree in sport management in 2013 from Kansas. She and her husband, Jon, reside in Bloomington, Illinois, with their dog, Kirby.
Nick Meyer | Quality Control
Nick Meyer begins his second season with Illinois State football program in a full-time quality control role in 2019.
Meyer is no stranger to the Redbird football program, having worked as a team videographer in 2011 and then a student assistant from 2012-2015. As a student assistant, Meyer worked with the defensive backs for two seasons and with the defensive line for the final two seasons. He also assisted with helping with scout teams, recruiting graphics and day-to-day football operations.
Following his graduation from Illinois State with a degree in organizational and leadership communication in December of 2015, Meyer coached running backs and linebackers at Fieldcrest high school for one season.