According to Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel, San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Hardy Nickerson is poised to become Fighting Illini football's new defensive coordinator. Nickerson will replace Mike Phair, who's staying put at Illinois as the defensive line coach. Contractual terms of this agreement haven't been reported yet.
Source: Hardy Nickerson expected to become Illinois defensive coordinator.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) March 9, 2016
Nickerson, 50, is a five-time NFL Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL 1990's All-Decade Team. He previously served as an assistant under Smith in Chicago (2007) and Tampa Bay (2014-15).
With this move, Illinois is the FBS school in the nation with an African American head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator.
If Hardy Nickerson is in fact the new Illinois DC, Illinois will be the only school in the FBS with an African American head coach, OC, & DC— Steve (@BigTwen) March 9, 2016
Football Scoop previously reported that Nickerson was Lovie's top target to fill this position. Again, here's another look at the reported coaching staff that's being put together.
Hardy Nickerson is Illinois' new Defensive Coordinator.
It's official! Welcome @LovieSmith's new #Illini DC Hardy Nickerson.— Illini Football (@IlliniFootball) March 14, 2016
STORY: https://t.co/22eNXyyICS pic.twitter.com/GNxm1m4Wm4
"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. 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."
~ Lovie Smith
Current Reported Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Lovie Smith (Link)
Offensive Coordinator: Garrick McGee (Link)
Defensive Coordinator: Hardy Nickerson
Offensive Line Coach: Luke Butkus (Link)
Wide Receivers Coach: Andrew Hayes-Stoker (Link)
Running Backs Coach: EMPTY
Defensive Line Coach: Mike Phair (Returning)
Linebackers Coach: EMPTY
Secondary Coach: EMPTY
Recruiting Coordinator: EMPTY