Coach Zook completes new staff

By Courtney Linehan

Head football coach Ron Zook announced Thursday the completion of Illinois’ football coaching staff. Zook added two assistants and a strength and conditioning coach to Illinois’ staff, while retaining the director of football operations.

“We have nine coaches who are excited to be here,” Zook said in a press release. “They came to Illinois for the same reasons I did, because they know this is a great University with great people.”

Former Tuskegee assistant Dino Dawson and former Minnesota assistant Tom Sims have joined the Illini, and will serve as wide receivers coach and defensive line coach, respectively. Dawson has 12 years of coaching experience, working most recently as Tuskegee’s defensive backs coach. He coached wide receivers at Toledo in 2001, Bowling Green from 1994-2000, and Wayne State in 1992. He played on the 1985 Ohio State Rose Bowl team, lettering as a wide receiver and kick returner.

Sims coached the Gophers’ defensive line for four seasons. He coached at Eastern Michigan in 2000 and Western Kentucky in 1997-99. Sims also has seven years of NFL experience, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings.

The final addition to the Illini staff is strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez. Hernandez was Zook’s conditioning coach for three seasons at Florida.

Lloyd Richards, Illinois’ director of football operations for the past three seasons, will retain that position and will become an assistant athletic director. Richards’ responsibilities include working with recruiting, budgeting, scheduling, facilities, team travel and event management.

“These coaches are unbelievable people and family men, great teachers and tremendous recruiters,” Zook said. “We’re ready now to get started implementing the offense, defense and special teams, at preparing for spring practices.”

Spring football practice begins March 29.