Illini coach Lovie Smith officially announces Hardy Nickerson as defensive coordinator

Four-time All-Pro linebacker, member of NFL 1990s All-Decade Team joins Lovie Smith's staff as defensive coordinator; Illinois also announces addition of Andrew Hayes-Stoker as wide receivers coach

CHAMPAIGN - Illinois coach Lovie Smith on Saturday officially announced five-time Pro Bowler Hardy Nickerson as defensive coordinator.

Nickerson, the San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach, had served the last two seasons as Smith's linebackers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also served on Smith's Chicago Bears staff in 2007.

"Hardy Nickerson is one of the few superstar players who have been able to transition into coaching and translate the style and level of play needed to succeed to the players he is coaching," Smith said in a statement. "He has been on my staff with two different NFL teams, and I'm really looking forward to having Hardy join us here at the University of Illinois as our defensive coordinator. His ability to connect with young men and their families will be a huge benefit when it comes to recruiting, and his knowledge of our defense will certainly help us get to where we want to be faster."

Smith also announced the addition of Andrew Hayes-Stoker, the Indianapols Colts assistant to the head coach, as wide receivers coach. Stoker spent the last two seasons as wide receivers coach under Smith in Tampa and was on Smith's Bears staff from 2006-2012.

“Andrew Hayes-Stoker is one of the brightest young coaches in the game,” Smith said. “Since joining our staff with the Bears, I’ve seen him continue to learn the game and develop as a teacher. I know he’ll be outstanding in coaching our receivers and as a recruiter.”

On Friday, Smith announced former Louisville assistant Garrick McGee as assistant coach.

Illinois defensive backs coach Paul Williams is expected to be retained by Lovie Smith, multiple sources close to the Illinois football program told Williams spent the last 10 seasons under Al Golden, the last five at Miami and the first five at Temple. He served on Cubit's Western Michigan staff in 2005 and 2006 and from 1999-2004 coached at Delaware, where both he and Cubit played college football.

Several sources confirmed to that former Smith has dismissed former Illini assistants Mike Bellamy, Jeff Hecklinski, Tim McGarigle, A.J. Ricker and Al Seamonson. Bellamy (wide receivers) and Seamonson (outside linebackers) had spent the last three years as Illinois assistants. Hecklinski, McGarigle, and Ricker had just joined the Illini staff in January.

Offensive coordinator Ryan Cubit was dismissed last Saturday along with his father Bill, the head coach. Defensive coordinator Mike Phair, who served under Smith with the Bears and Buccaneers, reportedly will stay on as defensive line coach.

On Thursday, Illinois announced Smith's first official hire, offensive line coach Luke Butkus. The Illinois alumnus returns to the Illini, where he played from 1997-2002 and served as the Illini offensive line coach in 2012, after three seasons as the Jacksonville Jaguars assistant offensive line coach. Butkus, the nephew of Illini legend Dick Butkus, served on Smith's Chicago Bears staff from 2007-09.

Lovie Smith's reported staff

Head coach: Lovie Smith

Offensive coordinator/QBs coach: Garrick McGee (official)

Defensive coordinator: Hardy Nickerson (official)

WRs coach: Andrew Hayes-Stoker (official)

OL coach: Luke Butkus (official)

DL coach: Mike Phair (reported)

DBs coach: Paul Williams (reported)

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