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Illini DC Hardy Nickerson taking leave after mom’s death

Understandably, Lovie Smith‘s coaching staff could very well be down a man this coming weekend.

Sunday night, the mother of Illinois defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson unexpectedly passed away. Illini head coach Lovie Smith confirmed Monday that his coordinator has gone back to California to be with his family and help to take care of their collective loss following the matriarch’s death.

Whether Nickerson is available for this coming weekend’s home game against Indiana remains to be seen, although that appears to be the least of Smith’s concerns.

“When anything happens family-wise, my policy and what I insist on is them to take care of the family,” the coach said. “The rest of us will pick up the slack with what needs to be done here.”

When it comes to who would step in if Nickerson is a game-day unavailable, Smith, a former NFL DC, stated he has “called a couple defensive games, and know a little bit about defensive football.”

Outside of that football aspect, we give Nickerson and his family our thoughts, prayers and condolences for their loss.