Illinois football coach Bill Cubit has made his first staff additions as the "permanent" head coach. Sources confirm Sports Illustrated reports that A.J. Ricker will rejoin the staff as an offensive line coach and that Illinois will hire Colorado State Pueblo passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jeff Hecklinski to serve as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
Official announcements on the hires are expected soon.
Hecklinski and Ricker would fill two of the three current vacancies on the Illini staff. Alex Golesh left to join Matt Campbell's staff at Iowa State, and Illinois did not retain offensive line coach Tom Brattan nor inside linebackers coach Mike Ward.
Ricker served on Cubit's staff at Illinois in 2013 and also coached under Cubit from 2006-2012 at Western Michigan. Ricker left Illinois after one season to return to his alma mater and join Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, who recently retired due to health seasons.New Missouri coach Barry Odom did not retain Ricker, who helped recruit four-star offensive tackle Gabe Megginson.
Hecklinski, a Palatine, Ill., native, played two seasons at Illinois and is familiar with the Big Ten as a coach. He was the recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach at Michigan from 2011-14 under former head coach Brady Hoke, and helped the Wolverines add Illinois natives Kyle Bosch, Logan Tuley-Tillman and Ty Isaac. He also coached at San Diego State (2009-10), Ball State (2004-08) and Arizona (2003).
Hecklinski played two seasons at Illinois before transferring to Western Illinois, where he was a three-time all-conference quarterback, leading the Leathernecks to two Division I-AA playoff appearances