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IMG Academy’s Donnie Abraham joins Illinois Football coaching staff

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The Orange and Blue are about to add more NFL experience to their defense.

NCAA Football: Murray State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Wednesday, February 15 (2:30pm)

As expected, Illinois football has officially announced the hiring of Donnie Abraham.

Lovie Smith Statement:

"I'm very pleased to have Donnie Abraham join our coaching staff. Donnie was a great player during his long NFL career, and has gained some terrific experience coaching high school football in the Tampa area and at IMG. His background with our staff here at Illinois will be extremely helpful as we continue to implement our defensive philosophies. Donnie is an excellent communicator and will help in our recruiting efforts in the state of Florida and other places he has connections. I'm very pleased to be able to bring someone of his caliber to our staff."


According to multiple reports, IMG Academy defensive coordinator Donnie Abraham is poised to join the Illinois football coaching staff as a safeties coach. While no official announcement has been made from the team, the required one-week job posting window will expire at midnight on Monday, meaning we’ll likely have some sort of confirmation on Tuesday morning. It was revealed on Sunday that Abraham had previously interviewed for the opening.

The addition of Abraham makes a lot of sense for Illinois. During a nine-year NFL career, the South Carolina native played five seasons under Lovie Smith as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he was also teammates with Hardy Nickerson from 1996-1999. Better yet, Abraham also joins the Orange and Blue from one of the most talent-rich high schools in the nation; Illinois’ staff already had an ample amount of connections in Florida, but this move should immediately enhance program reputation amongst several blue chip prospects, including four-star Illinois natives Houston Griffith and Verdis Brown.

Abraham fills the opening left by Tim McGarigle, who recently left Champaign to join the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff. McGarigle coached the linebackers under the new regime, so assuming that Abraham does take over a secondary position, some responsibilities will be shuffled around this offseason. That will likely entail Hardy Nickerson handling linebacker duties along with his role as defensive coordinator.

All-in-all? This seems to be another very solid move by the Fighting Illini. If nothing else, they’ve now assembled a very experienced defensive coaching staff.