Illinois football hires Gill Byrd to defensive staff

Gill Byrd-Illinois football-Lovie Smith-2018

Illinois football announced a new addition to Lovie Smith’s coaching staff on Friday, as longtime NFL assistant coach Gill Byrd has been hired to the team’s defensive staff.

According to a press release, Byrd will serve as the Fighting Illini’s passing game coordinator as well as its safeties coach in the 2018 college football season.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” Smith said in the release. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Now that Byrd is in charge of coaching the team’s safeties, Donnie Abraham — who worked with the safeties in 2017 — will will coach the cornerbacks.

In 2017, Byrd was the defensive backs coach for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. Prior to joining the Bills, Byrd was the cornerbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2014-15, and from 2006-12, he held several defensive coaching positions with the Chicago Bears. Before this, Byrd has also worked for the St. Louis Rams and the Green Bay Packers.

As Smith pointed out in the quote above, he and Byrd coached together in the NFL. Smith was the head coach of the Buccaneers from 2014-15 and of the Bears from 2004-12.

In addition, Illinois announced that Hardy Nickerson has been promoted to the team’s assistant coach. Last season, he served as the team’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He will continue to serve those roles as well in 2018.

Illinois will open its season at home against Kent State on Sept. 1.

The post Illinois football hires Gill Byrd to defensive staff appeared first on Land of 10.

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