Four downs: New Illini linebackers coach Miles Smith

Four downs: New Illini linebackers coach Miles Smith

Illinois football beat writer Bob Asmussen chatted with new Illini linebackers coach Miles Smith, who officially joined the staff Wednesday. Lovie Smith's son thinks the defense can improve in a hurry. "We have a chance to completely turn around what our product was last year with the additions we have and maybe switching some guys around to different positions. We just wants athletes. Our athletic play is going to be exponentially better this year." Smith originally joined the Illini as a graduate assistant working with the defense, but was promoted to the full-time staff after the unexpected training camp departure of Donnie Abraham.

How does recruiting change for you as a full-time assistant?

"It's really not that different. Now, I can go on the road. I couldn't go on the road before. When guys come in the building, it's the exact same. You just want to show who you are. We are trustworthy and coaches with integrity. You just want the kids to be able to see that. They just want to feel comfortable where they're at the next four years."

You grew up as a coach's kid. Tell me the good and bad about that.

"Good part, I was able to be around ball. I love football. It's been exciting being in the back, watching these press conferences. It's been exciting. The bad side is maybe some of those tough losses. Nobody wants to lose. But it's different losing when you're a kid. When you see your dad is losing, it hurts a different way. That was a little bit tough."

Does your dad listen to you?

"Absolutely. If you come to him with an idea and you have things to support it, he'll listen to anybody about it. He's a pretty reasonable guy with that stuff. We just want to improve our play. No matter who it is actually coming from. It could be a custodian for all he cares."

How do you like Champaign?

"I absolutely love the college town. I told Coach and my mom, I wish we would have ended up here a lot earlier than we did. Champaign is a great place. I just love the vibes to it. Everywhere you go, you see the license plates with the Block I on it. I think there's something special about that."