Slowly but surely, Lovie Smith is turning Champaign into Tampa Bay North.
Illinois announced Wednesday that Donnie Abraham has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach. Abraham will take the spot vacated by Tim McGarigle, who left earlier this month for a job with the Green Bay Packers.
This will mark Abraham’s first job at the collegiate level as he has spent the vast majority of first dozen or so years of his coaching career at the high school level. He also coached defensive backs for an Arena League team for two seasons.
Abraham was a player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Smith was a defensive assistant for the NFL organization. One of Henderson’s Tampa teammates was Hardy Nickerson, who now serves as the Illini’s defensive coordinator.
“I’m very pleased to have Donnie Abraham join our coaching staff,” Smith said in a statement. “Donnie was a great player during his long NFL career, and has gained some terrific experience coaching high school football in the Tampa area and at IMG. His background with our staff here at Illinois will be extremely helpful as we continue to implement our defensive philosophies.
“Donnie is an excellent communicator and will help in our recruiting efforts in the state of Florida and other places he has connections. I’m very pleased to be able to bring someone of his caliber to our staff.”
Abraham had spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator at high school powerhouse IMG Academy.