According to Sports Illustrated's Thayer Evans, Fighting Illini football will hire Luke Butkus as their offensive line coach. Butkus, who's the nephew of Illini great and NFL Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus, is currently an assistant O-Line coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2013-present).
Jacksonville Jaguars asst. OL coach Luke Butkus will be new OL coach for Illinois HC Lovie Smith per sources.— Thayer Evans (@ThayerEvansSI) March 8, 2016
Butkus, 35, attended and played football at Illinois, where he as a 2x All-Big Ten selection. His first coaching position came in 2005 when he was named a graduate assistant at Oregon. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by the Chicago Bears and worked under Lovie Smith from 2008-10. Butkus' most recent job in the NFL came with the Seattle Seahawks as a Quality Control/Offensive Line coach.
If you recall, Butkus was actually Illinois' O-Line coach for a brief stint back in 2012; he left to join Ron Turner at Florida International before eventually becoming a member of Jacksonville's staff instead.
So, in all likelihood, this will be the first addition to Lovie Smith's staff at Illinois. As we documented earlier today, the new head coach is working furiously to hire coordinators and other assistants.
Illinois has officially announced the hiring of Luke Butkus
First addition to @LovieSmith's staff. Welcome (Back) Luke Butkus! #Illini— Illini Football (@IlliniFootball) March 10, 2016
STORY: https://t.co/apO0yaUu2w pic.twitter.com/eSEd0PQe5O
Statement from Lovie Smith:
"The Butkus name is associated with the University of Illinois and the game of football as a sign of excellence and toughness. I'm very proud to be able to announce Luke Butkus as the first member of our coaching staff as coach of the offensive line. I've known Luke since he was on our staff with the Chicago Bears, and have followed his career since. He relates extremely well to the players he coaches and will play an important role in the growth of our program."