Illinois tabs Thad Ward as running backs coach

Illinois didn’t have to look far to fill their running backs coach vacancy, turning to nearby in-state neighbor Northern Illinois for their candidate.

Thad Ward is coming to Champagne to join Lovie Smith’s staff after spending three years with the Huskies. Prior to NIU, Ward coached one year at Western Michigan, a year at Gardner-Webb, and six at Western Illinois.

The last time he coached running backs were those six years with Western Illinois.

“Thad Ward will bring a new level of energy to our program,” Smith said in a statement. “He has been successful at each stop of his career, and is a proven recruiter. Thad has helped develop several outstanding players along the way, and I’m confident our current players will respond to his coaching in a positive way.”

Ward will be replacing Nathan Scheelhaase, who remained on staff in an off-the-field role.

Sophomore Ke’Shawn Vaughn is the club’s leading returning rusher with 723 yards and six touchdowns accumulated in 2015.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports