Lovie hires new defensive line coach

Lovie hires new defensive line coach

Illinois lost respected defensive line coach Mike Phair last month after Phair accepted the same role with the Indianapolis Colts.

Lovie Smith announced Phair's replacement on Friday, naming 27-year-old Austin Clark to the position.

Clark will arrive at Illinois after spending the last two seasons at Southern Cal, where he worked with the Trojans' defensive line and linebackers as a graduate assistant.

He spent the 2015 season at California, his alma mater, as a recruiting assistant with the Golden Bears.

Clark endured injuries during his college career at California, which spanned from 2009 to 2014. As a sixth-year senior in 2014, Clark made 22 tackles and earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors.

That season, he played with Illinois defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson's son, also named Hardy, when the younger Nickerson was a sophomore that season and made 69 tackles with California before he eventually transferred to Illinois for the 2016 season.

"Austin Clark came in for his interview and just blew us away with his enthusiasm and detail," Smith said in a statement. "He brings an outstanding attitude and high level of energy to our program. Our players are going to love working with Austin. He is extremely detailed and has a plan for each of the guys on the defensive line. Austin gained some great experience in his previous position, and will be a terrific addition to our staff."

Clark is the third new assistant coach Smith has hired this offseason after previously bringing on offensive coordinator Rod Smith and tight ends coach Cory Patterson. The Illinois staff is still one assistant coach short of being a complete staff since programs can have 10 assistant coaches starting with the 2018 season.

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BruckJr wrote on February 09, 2018 at 9:02 pm

I doubt Millikin would hire someone with so little experience.  This program is a dumpster fire.

Moonpie wrote on February 10, 2018 at 9:02 am

Woo-hoo -- a new D-line coah! Yeah, that makes all the difference.

We. Will. Win.