Is Fighting Illini football on the verge of hiring a coach from one of the nation’s top high school programs? There appears to be a chance. According to 247Sports’ Gus Ramos, IMG Academy’s Donnie Abraham recently interviewed for the vacant assistant slot on Lovie Smith’s staff. Abraham, the current defensive coordinator at IMG, played nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive back.
IMG Academy is probably the most talent-rich school in the country, meaning such a move could absolutely aid in Illinois’ pursuit of top-tier recruiting targets like four-star DB Houston Griffith (IL/FL). Abraham would also make sense from a relationship standpoint, too, because he overlapped with both Lovie Smith and Hardy Nickerson while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The university’s official job posting for this assistant role will have been public for the required one week by Monday afternoon, and with Spring ball starting up, it shouldn’t be long until Illinois makes some sort of announcement.
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“When football is taken away from you, it really makes you sit back and reflect and figure out what in your life is really, really important to you,” Chayce said. “It re-emphasized how much the game of football means to me and how vital it is to my life.”
Roster numbers are down, so getting too much accomplished overall this spring will be a challenge especially at the quarterback spot, which is a big concern as Wes Lunt is gone. Junior Chayce Crouch may have a bead on the job, but he will be limited in the spring.
Calling for a coach’s firing is always a drastic move, but the time has come. It’s time to give someone else a shot to build on what Groce has started. If not, Illinois is going to risk spending another year or two in neutral.