There has been plenty of excitement surrounding the Illinois football program since the Fighting Illini announced former NFL coach Lovie Smith had been hired as the team’s new head coach.
Now, Smith is beginning to put his staff together and there is further reason for excitement.
The latest addition to Smith’s inaugural Illini staff is Hardy Nickerson, who has been named defensive coordinator. Nickerson and Smith previously worked together with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Hardy Nickerson is one of the few superstar players who have been able to transition into coaching and translate the style and level of play needed to succeed to the players he is coaching,” Smith said in a statement. “He has been on my staff with two different NFL teams, and I’m really looking forward to having Hardy join us here at the University of Illinois as our defensive coordinator. His ability to connect with young men and their families will be a huge benefit when it comes to recruiting, and his knowledge of our defense will certainly help us get to where we want to be faster.”
Nickerson’s hiring comes following the news over the weekend that Garrett McGee has been named the Illinois offensive coordinator.
Smith has acted quickly to make his impact on the Illinois football program and he is just getting started. If he can turn this excitement into success on the recruiting trail, we could soon see the Illini becoming a factor in Big Ten play.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Illini Athletics