CHAMPAIGN -- Illinois made it official Monday; Lovie Smith has hired San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
"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. "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."
Nickerson played 16 seasons in the NFL, before beginning his coaching career with the Chicago Bears in 2007. He is a member of the NFL's 1990s All Decade Team.