Lovie Smith hires two former NFL coaches as assistants

Illinois football coach Lovie Smith added two former NFL coaches to his coaching staff Monday.

Hardy Nickerson and Andrew Hayes-Stoker were named defensive coordinator and wide recievers coach, respectively. Both coaches served under Smith during his tenure with the Chicago Bears, and Nickerson worked under Smith in Tampa Bay in 2014-2015.

Nickerson left his position as the linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers for the Illini. Nickerson played 16 years in the NFL for four different teams, before becoming a coach for the Bears in 2007.

Nickerson was one of the the best linebackers of his era. He was selected to the Pro Bowl five times and was an All-Pro selection four times.

“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 press release. “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.”

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Hayes-Stoker left the Indianapolis Colts, where he worked as the assistant to the head coach since Feb. 9. He was the wide receivers coach for the Bucaneers for the last two seasons, where he worked with and helped develop Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans.

Hayes was a running back at TCU from 1999-2002. He backed up LaDainian Tomlinson for the Horned Frogs.

“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.”

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