Bridge Fills Last Staff Opening

Former N.C. State coach brings 21 years of experience to Illinois staff.

CHAMPAIGN - Illinois filled the remaining vacancy on it's staff Wednesday, announcing the hiring of Jim Bridge as offensive line coach.

Bridge has 21 years of college coaching experience, most recently spending six seasons at N.C. State, where he coached the offensive line (2011-12) and tight ends (2007-10).

"I'm very excited to work with an outstanding coach and man in Tim Beckman," Bridge said. "Illinois is a great fit for me, personally, and Coach Beckman has assembled an outstanding staff."

Bridge takes over for Luke Butkus, who left Illinois earlier this month to join the staff at Florida International. Bridge will take his lead from recently hired offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, who was announced last week as the replacement for Chris Beatty.

Beckman and Bridge worked together for a season in 2000 at Bowling Green under Coach Urban Meyer.

"I worked with Jim at Bowling Green and have followed his career as he progressed through Ohio State, Eastern Michigan, Boston College and North Carolina State," Beckman said. "He has coached at several very productive and successful programs."

At N.C. State, Bridge coached four All-ACC players and last season the Wolfpack offense averaged more than 420 yards per game.

Bridge found himself in the job market when Coach Tom O'Brien was fired in November.

His ties with Beckman and a chance to coach in the Big Ten were selling points that led Bridge to Illinois.

"As a coach, you always look forward to competing in a premier conference like the Big Ten and at one of the nation's great academic institutions such as the University of Illinois," he said. "I can't wait to get started with the members of our team and especially our offensive linemen."

Added Beckman: "I was extremely pleased to find a coach of Jim's caliber to join our staff during this search for an offensive line coach… Jim will be a great fit at Illinois as an on-field coach and as one of the nation's top recruiters."

Illinois will begin spring practice March 5, with the annual Spring Game scheduled for April 12.

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