Lovie Smith is starting to fill out his staff again.
With a few openings to go, Smith filled his Running Backs Coach position with Mike Bellamy, offensive line coach with Bob McClain and Strength and Conditioning with Lou Hernandez, according to a press release.
“I’m extremely pleased to add Mike Bellamy and Bob McCalin to our coaching staff,” Lovie Smith said. “Of course, Coach McClain was with us as an analyst last year and has a long history of successfully coaching the offensive line with Rod Smith. Being in our building last year, he was able to acclimate himself with the current personnel and he is very familiar with our offensive system, so that transition should work very smoothly.
“In doing my research about Coach Hernandez, I heard nothing but positive comments, especially from the many former Fighting Illini players who worked with him during their time here,” Smith said. “When we had a chance to discuss this position, it was immediately clear that Lou loved his time here and was very interested in the chance to come back to our campus. We’re extremely excited for Lou to lead our strength and conditioning program. He has a great reputation across the nation. This is a critical time for our team as we continue to get stronger and faster.”
Bellamy coached wide receivers at Illinois from 2012-15, but was not retained when Smith was originally hired as head coach in 2016. He had stops at Mississippi State and Toledo during the three years away from Champaign.
Many Illini fans remember Bellamy as a star wideout for Illinois in 1988 and ‘89. In 1989, Bellamy caught 59 passes for 927 yards and eight touchdowns, earning second-team All-America honors as a kick returner.
Bellamy earned Big Ten Wide Receiver Coach of the Year honors in 2014 as freshman Mike Dudek had six touchdowns for more than 1,000 yards. And in 2013, the wideout group helped Illinois record a school-record 3,452 passing yards.
The Running Backs Coach position opened up when Thad Ward left for an assistant position at Temple in early February.
Other coaching moves made by Smith recently include promoting son Miles to Linebackers Coach, hiring Keynodo Hudson as the Defensive Backs Coach, and needed to fill the Strength and Conditioning Position (Joey Boese to the Cincinnati Bengals) and Offensive Line (Luke Butkus to the Green Bay Packers).
And with the 2019 recruiting cycle just about finished up, it’s time for Bellamy and the Illini’s staff to get to work on 2020, where Bellamy will be asked to help carry the load in Illinois — especially Chicago — and St. Louis.
Hernandez was Illinois’ strength coach from 2005-11 under Ron Zook.
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