Illinois football finalizes staff with Thad Ward hire

By Charlotte Carroll, Sports editor

Head football coach Lovie Smith completed his coaching staff Monday with the hiring of Thad Ward as running backs coach.

Ward comes from Northern Illinois where he was the wide receivers coach for the past three seasons.

“Thad Ward will bring a new level of energy to our program,” Smith said in a statement. “He has been successful at each stop of his career, and is a proven recruiter. Thad has helped develop several outstanding players along the way, and I’m confident our current players will respond to his coaching in a positive way.”

During Ward’s time with Northern Illinois, the Huskies went 31-11 with three bowl game appearances.

Ward coached two-time All-Mac honoree Da’Ron Brown who was selected to the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh round of 2015 NFL Draft. At Northern, Brown caught 68 passes for 1,065 yards and helped lead the Huskies to the 2014 Mac championship.

Before his time at Northern, Ward was the wide receivers coach at Western Michigan for the 2012 season, at Gardener-Webb for the 2011 season and at Western Illinois from 205-2010.

Ward played at Coffeyville Community College from 1997-1998 and at Central Florida from 1999-2001.

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