Smith completes coaching staff

Smith completes coaching staff

CHAMPAIGN — Consider Lovie Smith's coaching staff complete. Illinois officially announced the hiring of former Illini Mike Bellamy as running backs coach, the promotion of analyst Bob McClain to offensive line coach and the return of Lou Hernandez as strength and conditioning coach Wednesday afternoon.

Bellamy is in his second stint as an Illinois assistant after spending four years on Tim Beckman's coaching staff, including one as an assistant director of player personell and relations and three as wide receivers coach. The former Illini wide receiver was a quality control coach at Mississippi State in 2016 and spent the last two years at Toledo as wide receivers coach.

"It's always a positive when you can add an alum to your staff," Smith said. "Coach Bellamy has proven himself as an assistant here with a previous staff and at Toledo the last two seasons. Mike's experience in Chicago and the state, along with his knowledge of our program, will definitely be a benefit. He did a terrific job with the receivers when he was here before, and now he gets the opportunity to expand his coaching role to running backs. Both coaches are excellent additions to our program."

McClain joined the Illinois staff as an offensive analyst in 2018 after spending the previous two seasons at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. He worked with Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith at both Michigan in 2008 and West Virginia in 2001.

"Of course, Coach McClain was with us as an analyst last year and has a long history of successfully coaching the offensive line with Rod Smith. Being in our building last year, he was able to acclimate himself with the current personnel and he is very familiar with our offensive system, so that transition should work very smoothly."

Hernandez is also in his second stint at Illinois. He led the Illini football strength and conditioning program from 2005-11 under Ron Zook. Hernandez has spent the last seven years doing the same at North Carolina.

"In doing my research about Coach Hernandez, I heard nothing but positive comments, especially from the many former Fighting Illini players who worked with him during their time here," Smith said. "When we had a chance to discuss this position, it was immediately clear that Lou loved his time here and was very interested in the chance to come back to our campus. We're extremely excited for Lou to lead our strength and conditioning program. He has a great reputation across the nation. This is a critical time for our team as we continue to get stronger and faster."